Member Profile - Carole Kennedy

Most likely everyone in the Show Me Pickleball Club knows Carole Kennedy. She’s friendly and welcoming, and as a retired educator, has taught many new players the game. She was my group leader in the clinic Skip taught at the ARC back in 2015. Shortly after that I saw her walking contentedly down Ninth Street eating an ice cream cone and I thought, “I love her!” Carole still teaches the beginners class at the ARC on Friday mornings, along with Jan Thompson, Cindy Bell, and Carol Walther.

I asked Carole how she first discovered pickleball and this is what she wrote: “I was living a nice, quiet, uneventful life when Skip Deming called me and said he had learned a new game while wintering in Arizona and he invited me to meet him and a couple of his friends at the tennis court at Bethel Park to learn about it. That was my introduction to pickleball and it changed my nice, quiet, uneventful life in numerous ways.” At that time (2007 or 2008), they had to use a tape measure to mark off the court and then draw lines with chalk, everywhere they played. They used tape at New Haven Elementary gym. When the School District agreed to paint the lines in that gym it was a major victory for them.

Carole grew up in the small town of Mendon MO, daughter of Vern Kennedy, a Major League pitcher who threw the first no-hitter in Comiskey Park back in 1935. One can imagine that Carole’s athleticism came naturally. She played left field on the Mendon Little League (boys) team. This was “at a time when girls were not supposed to do such things. I wore my hair short, always had on a baseball cap so most people didn't realize I was a girl. In high school I played basketball---our team won 67 consecutive games---and I was a catcher on the softball team. We had a winning record in that sport too. We had a great coach! Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the way of women's sports back in the dark ages! I am very pleased that girls/women have so many opportunities to participate in competitive sports today.”

With no tennis courts in Mendon and no time for racquet sports as an adult Carole was a bit uncertain as to how well she’d do with pickleball. We all know that she did very well and can be a formidable opponent in our rec games. She says, “I really enjoyed learning to play, being outside in the sunshine. I had known Skip for many years, so having him for an instructor added to the enjoyment.”

Carole loves the exercise and the challenge (“some days more than others!”) of pickleball, but more than either of those things, she’s loved getting to meet new people, many of whom have become friends. She enjoys the variety of people who play—“old (that would be me), middle-aged, young, folks with interesting work, hobbies, etc., who are so easy to visit with.”

Like so many of us, Carole admits to being addicted to the sport. She tries to play five days a week, that is, when she’s not off on another exotic adventure. You can always ask her about her latest travels and it won’t have been very much in the past. She loves to go! She is also a gifted photographer, who documents her many trips (as well as our events and tournaments) with beautiful photos.

Carole played in the Senior Games a few times but hasn’t done much tournament play lately. She says she’s happy to cheer on club members who do participate and take their photos with their medals.

“Having become addicted to the game means that I feel a need to play as much as possible. The exercise is great, especially for those of us who are getting older. The new friends I’ve made have enriched my life. I was an educator for 38 years and now having the opportunity to teach beginners to play pickleball has reminded me how very much I love teaching. Being active and keeping fit enables one to enjoy better physical and emotional health. All our players who share a court with me contribute to my enjoyment not just of pickleball, but of retirement, and I appreciate them more than I’ve been able to tell them.”

I think many of us feel the same way about this dimpled former principal who has a hundred fascinating stories to tell and who can be heard observing at any given event, “This must be the naughty row.” We are privileged to know you, Carole!

- Kay Foley