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'He was my number one fan': Local woman remembers her late husband through their love of pickleball

Posted: 8:59 PM, Jan 01, 2024
Updated: 2024-01-01 22:00:20-05

WACO, Texas — Millions are picking up paddles to take part in one of the fastest growing sports in the country. But for some, pickleball is about much more than finding a new way to stay active.

  • Jacqui Strickland started playing pickleball 5 years ago after she started taking care of her late husband during his cancer treatment. He built her a pickleball court before he passed away 2 years ago from Covid-19
  • Strickland says pickleball has given her many opportunities, friends, and has even changed her life.
  • Director of 'Awesome Pickleball Outreach' Van Davis holds free pickleball practices Monday through Thursday
  • If you’d like to pick up a paddle, awesome pickleball outreach meets every Monday and Wednesday from 11:30am to 1pm. For beginners every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30pm to 7pm and competitive meets from 7pm to 8:30pm

BROADCAST SCRIPT:

“Playing pickleball has changed my life. I don’t know what I would have done without it.”

Jacqui Strickland started playing pickleball five years ago after she started taking care of her late husband during his cancer treatment

“My late husband built me a court in my backyard and I’ve been playing ever since and just love, love, love it,” Strickland said.

Van Davis shares that same love for the sport, she started the “Awesome pickleball Outreach” program a few months ago, and now she’s holding tournaments at Central United Methodist Church.

SEE MORE: Pickleballers ring in the New Year on the court

“We want to be able to bring pickleball to smaller communities that might now know pickleball and I’ve got some great people that will come and help me we’ve got nets we can take out. If there a parking lot somewhere we can teach people how to play pickleball,” said Van Davis, Director of Awesome Pickleball Outreach

Davis said having people come together helps create a fun active atmosphere for families heading into the New Year.

“The whole family can come do this, not just a husband and wife, we want husbands and wives, to come together. We want a family with children to come play and be active together,” Van Davis said.

Strickland’s husband passed away from COVID-19 two years ago, but that positive atmosphere has helped her grieve his loss, and remember her biggest supporter.

“He goes, I want you to be the best pickleball player you can and he was probably my number one supporter. Well he was my number one fan. Never missed a competition. Before he passed away I was playing in tournaments, he didn’t get to see me play in very many of them, but he was always there,” Strickland said.

Saturday's tournament raised money to purchase new paddles, and balls to help continue the free outreach program.

If you’d like to pick up a paddle, 'Awesome Pickleball Outreach' meets every Monday and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For beginners every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and competitive meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.