Pickleball at Robson Ranch Denton Texas
Compiled by Jennifer Hill 2014
Pickleball at Robson Ranch Texas has come a long way since Eldon, Al, Mike and Paul tried using a volleyball net for their first game of pickleball in October 2006. The nets are different now and so are the paddles. The original paddles were wooden, and over time, the composite paddle became available. We now have aluminum core, graphite and other types available to purchase.
For the first couple of years pickleball players at Robson Ranch were just a group of residents who developed a love of the fun sport. As the number of players increased and pressure rose for more court time. It became obvious that some organization was needed so that court time would be allocated for pickleball. First a steering committee composed of Paul Giller, Al Grundstrom and Eldon Reynolds was formed with a staggered length of service. Paul acted as treasurer and asked for a few bucks each time the ball supply ran low. This worked fine until the club was officially chartered by Robson Ranch in 2007. With this status it was possible to negotiate with the facilities use committee for a permanent schedule for pickleball in the gym. There were a few disgruntled small groups who were displaced, but the club kept pushing for more court time which was reluctantly granted .
Three ladies from Lewisville who had some pickleball experience were recruited to help new players at Robson learn the game. Roslyn, Barbara and Nadine played weekly here for about a year until the courts became too crowded. in 2007 they played on the first ladder established by Eldon, since there were not enough members to make a good ladder. In 2007 and 2008, a small group of players joined the Lewisville ladies in competing at the Oklahoma Senior Games. They competed in mixed doubles and men and women's doubles. Several medals were brought home from these tournaments. (No one told that everyone that played got a medal).
Ladder play has been held twice each year since that time, and many approaches have been tried. First one ladder, then two, then three and back to one. Since 2010 two ladders – Competitive and Recreational - have seemed to work well. This gives all players the opportunity to play as aggressively as they want or to take a more relaxed approach. Both groups have a lot of fun and are assured of an hour of reserved court time to get in some good exercise.
The "Senior Olympics" started at Robson Ranch in 2007. The first "Senior Pickleball Olympians" had to serve to specific marks on the floor as one part of their competition. The person who had the highest score after five serves, was the winner. Winners in 2007 were Beverly Albarran, Lore Carr, Pat Claytor, Carlos Muniz and Ron Guyer(deceased). The Senior Olympics are a yearly event here at Robson Ranch, and the number of participants has grown immensely with the extra outdoor court space.
Competition between Lewisville and Robson Ranch has been going on since 2007-2008 and our members were bringing home the gold even back then. Our club has worked continually to bring in new members by having clinics and with the more experienced players helping others learn to play.
The pickleball year runs a little differently here at Robson Ranch. The year runs from April first until the last day of March. Our officers for 2008-2009 were President-Tom Burke, VP-Ken Whinnem, Secretary-Alana Bingiel, and Treasurer-Paul Giller. This executive board had several clinics and also divided the membership into three levels, A, B, C. The executive board provided the clinics, and it made it possible for them to decide who would move up to a higher level of play.
The year 2009-2010 was the year that a change was definitely in the air. We just didn't know how big that change would be. Officers were President Rick Lampertz, VP-Millie Otwell, Secretary-Judy Ruggiero and Treasurer-Paul Giller. This was the first year that pickleball players ventured outdoors and played on one of the tennis courts with temporary nets. Pat Claytor had received permission to give this a try, and it went well until Pat left on an RV trip and there wasn't anyone else to organize and get players outdoors.
The 2010-2011 pickleball year started off with Dick Helm as President, Bev Albarran-VP, Jennifer Hill-Secretary and Dave Grande as Treasurer. It was necessary for Dick to relinquish the presidency so Beverly stepped into this position and Bob Garbarino became VP. The year continued with much of the same enthusiasm. Many positive events occurred during that year including "in house tournament", new pickleball shirts with a new logo and different styles to choose form, a drop box for dues and messages, and a new and larger sign in board and expanded hours for pickleball in the gym. An expansion committee was appointed and direct communication with Jack Sarsam in Arizona was opened. At that time outdoor pickleball became a real possibility. The first estimates were submitted to Arizona on the basic cost of an indoor facility with no trim. We were all surprised at the cost, and Arizona wasn't ready to commit.
In 2010, Ellen Gilgore introduced pickleball to the students in the Argyle lsd 5th and 6th grades to the growing sport of pickleball. A number of volunteers from our club were recruited to demonstrate at an assembly for both grades, teach it in the P.E. classes and then hold a 6 week after school club for those who wanted to continue to play. This program has continued each year since with the school completely supporting it by purchasing their own equipment. The children look forward to our arrival each spring! In 2013, McMath Middle School in Denton also invited us to introduce pickleball during their P.E. classes. This involved hundreds of 6th grade students who enthusiastically embraced the sport. This school also had the equipment which they found in a storage closet from years ago! As an ambassador for the national association (U.S.A.P.A.), it is Ellen’s goal to spread pickleball to the Denton County area, especially to young folks.
Pat and Renee Claytor and Jerry and Paula Stager travel together with their motor homes and while traveling and playing pickleball in Arizona, they stopped in to visit with Mr. Sarsam. They encouraged me (Jennifer Hill) to continue contact with Mr. Sarsam and to let him know how crowded our conditions had become in the gym at Robson Ranch Texas. Pickleball was booming at Robson Ranch Arizona complexes, but Texas still had to prove our numbers and our desire to play outdoors. Mr. Sarsam received more messages and pictures by email than anyone can imagine.
During the 2012- 2013 year, pickleball was a club of excitement and many changes. Officers were, Jennifer Hill-President, Marti Harnly-VP, Carol Hilton-Secretary and Jim Doyle Treasurer. The expansion committee gave a lot of direction and helped seal the deal with Mr. Sarsam on our outdoor courts. This committee was made up of Carlos Muniz, Bob Collins, Sherril Kerr, Tom Burke, Rod Hill, and Eldon Reynolds and Jennifer Hill. We had to first tape off courts and play outdoors in order to prove that there would be enough members to support the outdoor courts. A great day was when Mr. Sarsam asked for us to get a couple bids. Rod Hill and Sherril Kerr both got bids for building of the new courts. The bid went with Dobbs Tennis Courts, a new company that Rod had located out of Austin, TX.
The ratings committee that had been organized the previous year had a change in leadership when Sherril Kerr and Tom Burke both stepped down and Rod Hill, Bob Collins, Jim Richardson and Mary Alice Benton picked up the rolls and broke the membership down into different levels of play. This would help with ratings for ladder play and in house tournaments. Carol Hilton came up with "new member forms" which helped us get the correct information on new members. Marti Harnly organized a mentoring schedule and worked with Mel Labard to get the mentor program working. A schedule for each month was provided in order that new members would know when there would be mentors to work with them if needed.
The 2013-2014 year came in with the new courts being built. The officers were: President-Barry Pocock, VP-Bob Romagosa, Treasurer-Doug Hughes, Secretary-Kathryn Hollstein (who stepped down with plans of leaving the area). Kathryn was replaced by Janet Salvo. The group worked on schedules for indoor and outdoor courts. The club also held our first "Pickleball Ball,"( dance, games and great food) and "Mardi Gras In House Mixer," where members were mixed at all levels of players to have a fun day. This Mardi Gras Mixer" followed with food and beverage on the patio of The Sports Center.
The club membership has continued to grow thanks to the hard work and commitment of Mel Labard with the mentor program and the growing popularity of pickleball. The 2013 2014 board also started a website (RRDPC.com) designed for pickleball members to check schedules, view pictures from events and read current happenings within the club. Doug Hughes worked hard with the IRS to be certain our finances were in order. Bob Romagosa helped maintain both indoor and outdoor courts.
Officer for 2014-15 were: President-Barry Pocock,VP-Richard Schwartz, Sec-Shirley Waterhouse, treasurer- Houg Hughes, and Members-at-large, Kevin Andrews and Ford Roberson. In response to membership request voiced at the annual meeting and a continuation of the work from the previous year more tournaments, mixer and social event are in the plans. In April a Challenge Ladder League was organized with Men's Doubles, Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles and Open Singles Ladder open to all club members. The league is completely on-line and after a few initial problems it is anticipated to be player administered with only emergency manager intervention.
Each year there are in house pickleball mixers, picnics, events like the "Pumpkin Open" and many clinics to help make our club what it is. What we are looking at in the future is more pickleball courts so that we can hold official tournaments and invite other clubs here to experience what we have here at Robson Ranch.
As with any club, the success of the Robson Ranch Pickleball Club can be attributed to the many volunteers over the past several yeasr. Many thanks goes to all those who serve as leaders within the pickleball community here at Robson Ranch Texas. Special thanks to Tom Burke, Ken Whinnem, Alana Bingiel, Paul Giller, Sherril Kerr, Pat Claytor, Rod Hill, Bob Romagosa, Jennifer Hill, Ellen Gilgore, Ford Roberson and those who helped with clinics over the years.
Thanks goes to those that helped Jennifer Hill gather the original information and edit this article. Carol Hilton, Bob Romagosa, Eldon Reynolds and Ellen Gilgore for editing. Tom Burke, Eldon Reynolds, Ellen Gilgore, Al Gundstrom, Carlos and Leta Muniz for sharing information. Writing was shared by Jennifer, Ellen, Eldon and Gary San Miguel did final editing.
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