When I was invited to share the story of how I became involved in pickleball as a player, a coach and someone who has a pickleball business, I jumped at the chance. I’ve faced some significant health challenges for most of my adult life and I saw it as an opportunity to share how I was able to find success while dealing with constant pain in the hopes that my story could help someone else push through their struggles.
It was also an opportunity to support two women that are doing great things for the sport by building a safe and inclusive space for woman to share and grow through pickleball.
These two remarkable women are pickleball enthusiasts Dotti Berry and Jody Belsher. They came together to co-author the book “EmPOWER: Pickleball Stories That Inspire” and share the powerful and impactful stories of how pickleball connected, engaged, transformed, and even saved the lives of women.
More than 50 stories are featured in the book, offering a diverse range of experiences from professional pickleball players to recreational players. These stories are deeply emotional tales of courage and change, as well as sources of inspiration for perseverance and resilience.
I know some of the other women featured in this book personally yet in several cases I was surprised by some of the trials they had endured and overcome of which I was not aware. They all credit pickleball as having played a substantial role in helping them transcend into a life of deeper purpose and connection with themselves and those around them.
The same was true of the women in the book that I knew of but did not know personally and those who were new to me. In all cases, I was struck and inspired by their strength, spirit, resilience and courage.
One remarkable story featured in the book is that of Pro Lee Whitwell, a determined 48-year-old player defying the odds by competing with young up-and-coming pro players. Whitwell manages her life-changing disease, Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), through pickleball. TN is a chronic pain disorder that involves sudden, extreme facial pain, sometimes rendering her bed-ridden. Despite the challenges, Whitwell continues to play, motivated by the desire to show up for her partner and the knowledge that it’s worth it in the end.
Another powerful tale comes from Darla Christensen, who experienced the horrors of the 2017 Jason Aldean concert shooting. The traumatic event, coupled with the isolation of the pandemic, left her emotionally and physically scarred. However, her life took a positive turn when her therapy dog led her to the home of pickleball pro Steve Cole. Through pickleball, Christensen found healing, rediscovering her health, zest for life, and happiness.
“EmPOWER: Pickleball Stories That Inspire” promises to be a captivating and empowering collection of narratives that showcase the transformative power of pickleball in women’s lives. Whether you’re a seasoned pickleball enthusiast or a newcomer to the sport, this book will undoubtedly inspire and motivate, revealing the boundless potential that lies within each and every woman who embraces the spirit of pickleball. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this empowering journey.
“EmPOWER: Pickleball Stories That Inspire” is available on Amazon and in digital format on Kindle. Get the book here >>