Every Pickler has that one “Ah Ha!” moment where they discover the great sport of pickleball and their life forever changes. Some stumble upon pickleball at their local gym or hear about pickleball through some sort of media outlet, while others may be urged to try pickleball by a friend or family member.
In my case, my family friend, Valerie “Val” Malatino-Berla, relentlessly encouraged my family and me to get out on the pickleball court. Every time my family and I spent time with Val, Val would mention pickleball, and by “mention” I mean ecstatically state how pickleball was so much fun, provided great exercise and helped her make great friends, and how she just had to teach us the sport of pickleball.
Before retirement, Val was an employee trainer who spent much of her career training and educating employees on the proper procedures and policies of the relevant business at hand. With this background, it is no surprise that Val always offered to teach us the sport of pickleball, and it is no surprise how awesome of a pickleball teacher Val is. Val’s teachings and enthusiasm were one of the reasons I instantly fell in love with the game.
The passion that Pickler Val has for pickleball is just what we need if we want to continue to grow our sport. I have no doubt that Pickler Val—who has not only shared pickleball with my family and me, but also with her entire family, including her three grandchildren—will continue to share and teach pickleball to others. And, I hope I can do my part to pay Pickler Val’s teachings forward.
How did you first hear or learn about pickleball? Please share with us in the comments below, or give a shout out to your favorite pickleball teacher.
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Since returning to professional pickleball this year, after taking a long COVID hiatus, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters have been traveling the country for pickleball tournaments. But, one thing that that they have not done in a really long time is take a family vacation... until now. Learn about Team Waters' trip to Costa Rica from Leigh herself, which included as much, or more, pickleball than at home in Florida, monkey spectators, family bonding, surfing, and a lot of new friends made on the Costa Rican pickleball courts, which reminded them how much fun the great sport of pickleball really is.