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Net Gains

Net Gains

  • A former surfer, an elementary school teacher, and more share the ways the game’s changed their life.

“I Can Remember the First Time I…

“…found an inspirational idea under the sun.”

“I started playing in 2020 and fell in love. I’m the founder of the hair care company dpHUE, and I play three times a week with friends, family, even my 6-year-old granddaughter. I’m part of a group of 20 women who play every Sunday; we call ourselves The Catfight. Afterward, we socialize over snacks and margaritas. I got my colleagues hooked on it, too. My company is now the official hair care sponsor of the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships [April 23–30 in Naples, Florida]. To celebrate the partnership, we’re launching the Protect & Play Hair Mist, which protects hair against UV color fading from the sun. Playing so much pickleball in the sun, I saw that it was causing damage, but that doesn’t stop me from getting back on the court—pickleball is the highlight of my week.”

Donna Pohlad, Palm Desert, California

InPickleball | Donna Pohlad, Palm Desert, California
Courtesy Donna Pohlad

InPickleball | Ho Nguyen, Santa Monica, California
Courtesy Grace Benn/Ho Nguyen
“…understood that age doesn’t matter in pickleball.”

“I’m a longtime surfer and grew up playing tennis and other sports. One day a surfing buddy convinced me to come out to the pickleball courts here, but when I saw the other players, I said, ‘I’m not too comfortable beating older folks.’ The exact opposite happened!

They ran me around the court because they knew where to place themselves and how to finesse their strokes. I quickly learned that to place the ball where your opponent can’t slam it or attack requires strategy and technique. I was hooked. Three years later, I’m the USA Pickleball ambassador for Santa Monica. My surfing buddies keep asking me when I’m going back into the water, and I say that right now, my passion is pickleball.” 

Ho Nguyen, Santa Monica, California

“…realized I’m playing for something bigger than me.”

“I teach phys ed in elementary school. After the district sent us a pickleball kit, I learned to play. Today, I’m a sponsored player with Hudef, and when I medal, I tell my students that all the hard work is for them; when I don’t win, I say, ‘It’s okay—I did my best.’ I’m playing for something bigger than me—I want to inspire someone by playing the best I can.” 

Izaak Alexander Gonzalez, Austin, Texas 

InPickleball | Izaak Alexander Gonzalez, Austin, Texas
Courtesy Izaak Alexander Gonzalez

InPickleball | Karen Worthy, Jackson, Michigan
Courtesy Karen Worthy
“… decided to turn on-court rhymes into a children’s book.” 

“At the Jackson Area Pickleball Association in Michigan, we started saying rhymes like ‘Get the ball, Paul!’ or ‘Bend your knees, Louise!’ So I decided to write a children’s book about the rhymes with a friend, Jackie Freeman. It starts like this:

Jack and Louise, grandchildren of mine, 

Let’s learn something new, let’s say it in rhyme. 

Pickleball, pickleball, it’s my favorite sport.

Now grab your gym shoes and we’ll head to the court.

We released the book in November 2020 and have had a fantastic response—we may even write a book for older kids when Jack and Louise start playing tournaments!”

Karen Worthy, Jackson, Michigan

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