Rick’s Sports Corner: Second Annual Veterans Pickleball Event Set

Serving those who serve is the theme for the event on June 6 at Pacific Community Center & Park in Glendale and runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

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By Rick Assad

For those brave men and women who have served in the United States military and have put their lives on the line for our freedom, each and every one should be applauded and held up high.

It’s not easy being in the service, but it’s rewarding knowing their efforts have made a contribution to our daily freedom.

However, there are also some negatives when they return to the states and they can be isolation, depression, loneliness, difficulty finding work, drug use and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), to name a few of the difficulties adjusting to being a regular citizen.

For all those veterans, being active both in mind and body are important and one way to do both is free to register for the Second Annual Veterans Pickleball event on June 8 at the Pacific Community Center & Park from 9 a.m. to noon. The address is 501 South Pacific Ave. in the city of Glendale. 

Brigette Baker Snyder, the Burbank High Baseball Booster President and her son Robert, a pitcher and outfielder on the team put the event together.

If interested, please send an email to robandbrig@sbcglobal.net.

“This event provides an opportunity to learn the basics of the sport of pickleball. Pickleball is highly adaptive to persons with mobility concerns and is cost effective,” she said. “The biggest takeaway of pickleball is that it provides exercise but probably even more important social engagement.”

Snyder said it’s an easy game to learn and a great way to have fun and be active.

A flyer for the Second Annual Veterans Pickleball event. (Photo courtesy Brigette Baker Snyder)

“The hopes are that our veteran participants learn the basics and develop a love for the game,” she offered. “They can then feel comfortable enough to seek out open play opportunities within their community. They develop a healthy habit that provides an incredible social opportunity.”

The event is something near and dear to Snyder and she explained why.

“My son Robert and I created this event and organized the event. We worked with local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) 8310 on Magnolia [Blvd.] and hope to bring an event similar to this to Burbank,” she said. “We have the assistance of Marshall Pura who leads the instruction. The Glendale Community Services and Parks and our volunteers are top notch. We would be nothing without our volunteers and sponsors. Last year our volunteers were 2 to 1 [to veterans]. We provided hands-on instruction in a warm and inviting environment.”

There are numerous people behind the scenes that make this event possible, and they are indispensable.

“Paddletek has provided over $2,000 worth of paddles and gear to raffle off for free to our participating veterans,” Snyder said. “This is huge! I can’t thank Jaycob Hill at Paddletek enough. Once we shared our plan and how we needed a partner to help enhance the experience, they were on board.”

Snyder added: “Will Estella with Upland Group is sponsoring again this year,” she pointed out. “He provides not only our lunch but helps spread the word of our event through his network of friends.”

Burbank is a city of slightly more than 100,000 people and Glendale has a population of just over 189,000 and both are family friendly.

“As a community, we need to give back to those who served our country. That may sound cliche, but it is true,” Snyder said. “Introducing pickleball to our veterans is only the beginning … Once you play pickleball, you love pickleball.  Not just the game but the incredible network of friends that you develop. This provides not only physical benefits but mental benefits as well. At Glendale pickleball, we host potlucks, fundraising tournaments, monthly birthday parties … you can play at Pacific Park almost every day and most communities provide some type of open play. There really is no downside to the game.”

Serving and assisting veterans is something Snyder feels strongly about.

“My father and father-in-law were veterans. For the last several years, we have worked to fundraise for PTSD of America, Camp Hope and Combat Vets.  Marshall had asked for volunteers to help with his People with Parkinson’s Pickleball event last year,” she said. “We worked with people who were at different stages of their Parkinson’s. The one common thread was their reluctance to move. There was a fear of moving, trouble holding on to the paddle, a struggle to balance. You could see their concern … by the end of the event, our new friends were moving, the trembling was less apparent, and probably the most important … They were laughing and having fun! Many of them have continued to play.”

This pleased Snyder and made her want to do even more to assist the veterans.

“It was during this event that I approached Marshall and said we are doing this for veterans … found out he himself is a veteran. We held our first one last year and this is the second,” she said. “The interest has grown this year. The VA [Veterans Administration] has commissioned a van to bring some of their clients. After our event last year, a few of our volunteers hosted the pickleball session at their VA adaptive sports event in the fall. So much fun.”

Robert Snyder knows the importance of the event and was glad to lend a hand.

“I think the Veterans Pickleball event is so important because for many veterans, especially veterans with disabilities, keeping an active lifestyle can be difficult after exiting the military,” he said. “Events like this are often the first step into a welcoming community of people with a similar background. I think that pickleball is a sport that is perfect for this because of how versatile it is. It’s easy to pick up, hard to master, and can be easily modified to suit the needs of those playing.”

Snyder wanted to do whatever to help his mother with the event.

“I helped organize the event and will be assisting in teaching the participants how to play the game. It is going to be a lot of fun, with people of many different skill levels coming out to play,” he said. “I got involved through my mother’s experience at Pickleball for Parkinson’s. We loved the concept and decided to create the Veterans Pickleball event. I’ve been engaged with the veteran community for a few years now after the BHS baseball coach, [Bob] Hart, encouraged the team to attend the Veterans Day ceremony held at McCambridge Park. The event opened my eyes to all of the talented people in the community.”

Snyder added: “While the BHS baseball team loves to help out veterans, this event is being held in partnership with Glendale Pickleball and Glendale Community Services, and is not related to the team,” he noted. 

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