Roots & Wings Online

More than Fun and Games - Building Community through Pickleball

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by two men from Washington State who returned home from work to find their families sitting around with nothing to do. They specifically created the game so their families could play together. Since then, pickleball has gained popularity and is the fastest-growing sport nationwide. This growth has found its way to Ladera Ranch.

Denise Frank, a 22-year Ladera Ranch resident, learned to play pickleball while on summer vacation. She was immediately hooked and spent the rest of that summer playing every chance she got.

Upon returning home, Denise searched the area for pickleball courts and didn’t find many options. She learned that the Avendale Village courts were lined for pickleball, so she added a post to the Ladera Ranch Moms Facebook page and found three other women who wanted to play and reserved a court on LaderaLife.

Denise is an athlete who loves her community and enjoys connecting with others, especially over sports. She spent summers in Lake Arrowhead and has been water ski racing competitively since age seven. Denise still enjoys water skiing during the summer.

This summer, you’ll find Denise playing pickleball with other women from the Ladera Ranch Ladies Pickleball Group, which she founded in December 2021 and officially became a Ladera Ranch Community Services club in 2022.

The popularity of the club exploded, and today it has over 450 members.

Pickleball as a sport has grown and made its way to Ladera. It’s heart-warming to see the sense of community that Denise and her group have preserved and promoted.

Women in the group have developed wonderful new friendships and feel a genuine connection to the community. These friendships have formed through consistently spending quality time together.

Denise said, “While pickleball can be a sport that is taken seriously, most of us are on the courts for camaraderie, exercise, and laughter.” The group has attracted ladies who are new moms, empty nesters, and everyone in between! Our group welcomes ladies of all ages and those with varying playing abilities.

Because of the group’s positive impact on the community, the Ladera Ranch Ladies Pickleball Group was presented 2023 Community Group of the Year service award by Ladera Ranch Community Service (LARCS).

Jill Lau notes, “It’s wonderful to experience the ripple effect one person’s action can make on our community. Denise used her passion for a sport to create something much bigger than a list of playing partners. She created a “community” which benefits everyone – whether they play the sport or not.”

This article is included in the fall issue of Roots and Wings magazine as part of the "Faces of Ladera" spotlight on residents who make Ladera Ranch a unique hometown