Nance Buonopane

Nance Buonopane

Pickleball For All and its Co-Founders, Jim and Carol, truly epitomize what I think the “real story” behind the game of pickleball is. It’s more than just a game, it’s a game that brings out the best in people. It promotes grace, kindness, hospitality, benevolence, and a “pay it forward” mentality.

I learned to play pickleball in 2014 while working as a nurse in CT. Like most people, I quickly became fascinated by the game and the people that played it. In Dec of 2015 I accompanied my hospice patient to his winter home in Naples, FL. A month later, while exploring the area, I came upon a sign at the entrance of East Naples Community Park that read: Home of the US Open Pickleball Championships. I thought; What? There’s such a thing as a US Open Pickleball Championships? Right here? Two days later I showed up at the park armed with my paddle and met Jim and Carol. I had no idea I struck “pickleball gold” that day or how my life was set to unfold the way it has.

Someone famous once said, “do what you love and love what you do.” Pickleball and everything the game has brought into my life has allowed me to do just that. To say I’m passionate about the game is an understatement, I’m told. The friendships, the comradery between players, the competition, the healthy lifestyle, and the plentiful opportunities to play a big part in the growth of the fastest growing sport in America is what keeps me actively involved. Jim and Carol have allowed me the opportunity to “play big” in the pickleball world. When I think about the fact that we’re still building the foundation of this game I get excited because we get to do it the right way—diversely and inclusively! I don’t know any other sport that so naturally bridges the gaps and breaks the barriers between professional athletes and novices; between able bodied players and those requiring adaptive devices; and between youth and seniors. We all play on the same courts and in the same tournaments—that’s the “true nature” behind this game!

As the Sponsorship Coordinator with Pickleball For All I’m fortunate to be able to combine pickleball with my other passions; children, people with intellectual and physical disabilities, healthcare, and food service. It is my goal to seek sponsorship from and inspire more benefactors who allow us to continue to identify, encourage, include, support, empower, and teach pickleball to EVERYONE through our endeavors at Pickleball For All. Ultimately, I would love to see pickleball programs and equipment available in every school and recreation center in America, a wheelchair and Special Olympic division included in all USAPA sanctioned and non-sanctioned pickleball tournaments, and a pickleball program in the Paralympics, Special Olympics, and Olympics. I will continue to do all I can to support Pickleball For All and the pickleball movement we’re undertaking!