Here is a pb trivia question for today….What Do Alex Hamner, Carley Rozpedski, Susan Moore, Jodi Elliott, Jennifer Dawson, Julie Welter Scott, and Dina Weinbach have in common? I’m sure most of you pickleballers recognize at least some of those names. Especially if you watch videos or go to major pb tournaments…You guessed it, they are all accomplished pickleball players. These ladies also have another similarity that is appropriate to talk about today….Right again…they are all moms, but there’s one more thing… The kids of the moms on the list – Chad Hamner, Christian Rozpedski, Daniel Moore, Josh and Rachel Elliott, Kyle and Sarah Yates, and Jake Weinbach – are also avid pickleballers who have won medals in youth or adult competition. I thought that today my readers might enjoy hearing from two players that certainly should be on the above list. Here’s a shot I stole of these pretty gals when they were at the Canadian Nationals last year. They hail from down below the Mason Dixon Line.
My guests live in Nashville, Tennessee. If you’re from Canada you probably think of country music when you think of Nashville, but there is also some good sports action going on down there…What’s been happening in the sports scene at the ‘Greenest State In The Land Of The Free”?…Well in football, the Tennessee Titans finished their season 9-7, but missed the playoffs…The Predators hockey club is in the NHL’s Conference Final….Well done, Preds…However, the big news for me is two of Nashville’s star athletes are here on the Challenge Court to talk about their relationship, growing up, motherhood and pickleball. It’s a story about a mother and daughter, their love for each other and for our funny game….How does that sound?…Well, if y’all are ready, let’s talk to the our featured duo….Mom first…
In Her Own Words – Stephanie Lane
1. What was your own interest in sports when you were growing up, Stephanie? Were you raised in Nashville? Did your own mother encourage you to be an athlete?
SL – Hi Doug, Thank you for your patience in me getting the answers to your questions;~)…Here’s my past sports history:
I played softball and basketball until my Mom got me into tennis and I took private lessons. My Mom and Dad played in the neighborhood tennis league. I wish she were here today to see her daughter and granddaughter playing pickleball because I think she would love it too;~)
I was raised in Franklin, TN. As I mentioned earlier, my Mom was involved in tennis and wanted me to try it too…I loved it so much that I got a college scholarship to play NAIA tennis at Lipscomb University. Then I was inducted into my high school (Battle Ground Academy) and University (Lipscomb University) Halls of Fame;~)
2. How long have you been playing pickleball? Who introduced you to our game?
SL – I’ve been playing since 2012. My first Nationals was in 2012 and I’ve medaled in each Nationals tourney from 2012-2017. My best showing was in 2015 when Kyle Yates and I won GOLD in the 19+ Mixed and 3rd in the Open Mixed Division…Then Christine McGrath and I won bronze in Open Women’s Doubles and Nicole Hobson and I got bronze in 35+ Women’s….I’ve also medaled in both U.S. Open tourneys!
My closest friend Trish Hodgson – who was also my tennis coach and PE teacher mentor – taught us the game of pickleball back in my college days (1987-1991) when Trish taught us that it was a game to be used secondary PE class. So I taught an extensive unit in PE class for 8 years before I knew adults even played this sport!
3. You gave birth to your daughter about 15 years ago. What were you up to at the time? How did becoming a mom change your life? What was it like for you?
SL – I believe I was still playing some tennis…we would win the local USTA title and then go and get our socks beat off us when playing the state level tourney because we would be facing the teaching pros…haha! That got old pretty quick. I remember being hungry for something new and different so I even tried going over to the Vanderbilt Student Activities Center to try badminton. Then later I found pickleball again!
We waited a long 10 years to have our bundle of joy! I had some female issues that prevented us from getting pregnant so we often wondered if we would be blessed with the ability to have children.
I tell expecting moms all the time that it changes your life in every way but ”for the best” as well:-)…After having a normal delivery at LeEllen’s birth, ten days later I was back in the hospital with a twisted intestine…so my family had to step up and help out while I had to be opened up for the doctor to remove 8” of my intestines.
We hit the jackpot with having our one and only daughter and are thankful we got the BEST on our one and only try 😍
4. As LeEllen was growing up, did you encourage her to come out on the pb court with you? How old was she when she picked up a paddle?
SL – LeEllen is a people person and loves meeting new people. So, when I was playing and LeEllen was at the courts with me, she immediately had a connection with all the wonderful Pickleball Nashville people who we’ve met!…She was a 5th grader (age 10) when she first picked up a pickleball paddle! And still loves it to this day. Now that she’s really improved, we’ve been able to partner up and that takes our enjoyment to another level;~)
5. You have made a lot of great pickleball pals in your travels…Who are the players that have inspired you to play at your best?
SL – Steve Wong was the first 5.0 player who took interest in helping me learn how to take my tennis skills and transfer them into the pickleball court. Steve even partnered with me in 35+ Mixed Doubles in the 2013 or 2014 Nationals where we beat Alex Hamner & Matthew Blom and beat Jennifer Lucore & Phil Bagley in the winner’s bracket final but lost to Lucore/Bagley and took silver.
Next I give lots of credit to my improvement and skill development to Dr. Tom Earley who was featured on the Pickleball Channel. Tom taught me how to dink and hit a third shot drop as well as take pace off balls driven hard at me at the net. Without Tom Earley, my game would not have evolved to the level that it has to help me achieve some success.
Scott Clayson encouraged me to try a lighter version of the Paddletek paddle that I had been using. It was very important to go to a lighter paddle in order to have quicker hands at the net to prevent popping up dinks.
Lastly, lots of kudos go to Nicole Hobson who was my tennis doubles partner…she took a solely singles player and converted me to a doubles player. She patiently taught me basic doubles concepts and helped me learn how to develop a game plan! This is now one of my best strengths that I bring to a doubles team!
6. Mother’s Day will soon be here. Do you have anything to say to moms and kids that might be considering taking up our funny game?
SL – Pickleball is a family sport. I can think on no other activity that families can be the same skill level and compete together! So I encourage all mothers to ”get out of the kitchen” and head to the courts;~)…I love seeing grandparents playing with their grandchildren as well…
There’s no doubt that LeEllen and I are closer because we have played pickleball and travelled all over the USA together!!!
7. Last question Stephanie…How much fun is it for you to be out on the courts pickleing with your daughter LeEllen?
SL – As I have alluded to before, it takes my love of pickleball and travelling to tournaments and clinics to a whole new level! I can’t imagine anything better we could do together!!!
In a nutshell, for our Mother/Daughter duo pickleball:
*is a healthy habit, *promotes teamwork, sportsmanship and communication, *builds our bond deeper, *traveling teaches us how to be more open-minded to many different lifestyles and viewpoints, *is valuable as LeEllen learns to be organized and make travel plans as well as navigate airports alone, *provides opportunities to stay in pickleball players’ homes which promotes learning how to make conversation with adults and show manners for our appreciation for their hospitality;~) *makes lots of great memories and take many pictures that will last a lifetime!
Thank you Doug for asking these questions and reminding the both of us how much we love this crazy game called pickleball…Happy Mother’s Day to Pam too!
😊 That’s a gold medal on your summary, Stephanie Lane…Now I’ve got a few questions for another Lane…
In Her Own Words – LeEllen Lane
1. I’m wondering LeEllen what your home town is like…How do you like growing up in Nashville?
LL – I have really enjoyed growing up in Nashville. I couldn’t imagine being raised anywhere else and I love my hometown very much!
2. Do you do well in school? What are your other interests other than pickleball?
LL – In my academics I am an ”A & B” student. I also play tennis on my high school team and I played volleyball from 5th to 8th grade, but decided to focus on tennis in high school.
3. How old were you when you decided, ”Hey, that game that Mom is playing looks like fun….I think I’ll give it a try.”:-)
LL – When I was in 5th grade I picked up a paddle for the first time. Around 7th or 8th grade I started competing and earning medals, and the rest is history!
4. Other than your superstar mom, who are the other top players that you admire?
LL – I am super close to Dave Weinbach and his family, so I would have to say The Badger is my favourite!
5. I know you have fun doing things with Stephanie…What do you think about now that Mother’s Day is getting close?
LL – As you probably know, for my Mom’s birthday I made a long Facebook post about how much she meant to me…For Mother’s Day, I plan to make a similar post but instead of words this time there will be lots of pictures of us from when I was little! I also plan to spend the day with her doing things we love.
6. Pickleball players usually have to do some work in the kitchen area if they want to improve their games…Speaking of kitchens..what would you cook for Stephanie if you were making her a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed?
LL – hmmm, well my Mom is not a big breakfast person. She usually isn’t hungry when she wakes up, so for lunch I might take her to her favourite restaurant, Martin’s Barbecue near our house!
7. Moms love us and take care of us, but they also have another important role…How is your Mom doing as your life coach?
LL – My Mom is not only a fantastic pickleball and tennis coach, she is even a better coach in other aspects of life. She is my best friend.
😊 Good job on your answers, LeEllen…Great work on you grades as well….I hope my questions weren’t too much like homework:-)
The first two videos have to do with a couple of surprise guests to this edition…The Badger and his son Jake. Here are the questions I had for Steph and LeEllen’s pickle pals:
* Hi Dave, I’m doing an edition on Stephanie and LeEllen Lane… Do you have a comment to make about Steph? Does Jake have a comment about playing with LeEllen?
Dave Weinbach – Yes. I really enjoy playing with Steph as we have a similar philosophy for mixed doubles. She is a consistent player and I love her competitive drive. We all know she has the most effective lob in the game. Steph is an extremely supportive partner and makes her partner better! We have won 10 Gold medals as a team and I look forward to playing more mixed with Steph this year.
Jake Weinbach – LeEllen and I won the first tourney I ever played in Rockford IL. We call her LeLe and her improvement in the last year has been amazing. LeLe works hard on her game and is an absolute joy to play with and we are doing Nationals this year!!!…When we are together Dad and I love to play with LeLe and Steph. Our families usually get together in Surprise AZ in December and get to play a lot of pickleball together!!!
* Thanks guys for the info. You fellows are featured competing with the ladies in the next two links…great action!!
Jake and LeEllen at the 2016 Wisconsin Cup https://youtu.be/VBsaclcdPYA
Dave and Steph at the 2017 Spring Swing in Rockford IL. I like this short video because you get a good look at Stephanie Lane’s famous Nashville Lob. https://youtu.be/VQrw72_de8E
Speaking of lobs…Here is a drill that features Stephanie Lane and top player and instructor Sarah Ansboury….I have tried this one with Pam because I want to add this shot to my playing vocabulary.
Steph and Sarah at the Villages, FL. https://youtu.be/4xNgIxj4SZA
More Lobstering with Stephanie. https://youtu.be/Z-AdLk5UXOg
As long as we are on the subject of drills. Here is the way to master the dink shot with Stephanie’s pb instructor Dr. Tom Earley.
Dinking 101. https://youtu.be/c8XpasxBrrI
Here is another surprise guest…I asked Rodney Grubbs, the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Pickleball Rocks if he would like to contribute to this post. This is his response:
“As everyone does, we fell in love with Stephanie the first time we met her. I believe it was a tournament in Terre Haute six or seven years ago. It has been fun watching her game grow as nobody works harder to get better than Stephanie. She is constantly working on her game. When you see her at a tournament, she cannot walk past an empty court without hopping on and hitting a few shots. As for her being on our Pickleball Rocks team, she helps pickleball clubs who would like to have custom club shirts. She was an easy choice to join and is the only non-family member currently on the team. That tells you how much we think of Stephanie. She rocks!” -Rodney ”Rocket” Grubbs
Stephanie Lane playing with Abby Grubbs from Pickleball Rocks. https://youtu.be/_uMY9p7Y3E0
Unfortunately, there are very few videos of youth bracket pickleball…That is unfortunate for nosy pb bloggers like me. I like to see what the future stars look like:-)…Thus I was happy to see that Rusty from the Pickleball Channel put out this video from last year’s US Nationals. LeEllen Lane is there with her young pb pals in the first minute of the clip. LeEllen took home a gold and a silver in Junior Mixed and Junior WD at Casa Grande last November.
2016 US Nationals Juniors. https://youtu.be/4HZ4wuRlDnU
Golds, not diamonds, are a girls best friend in pickleball…This match is the MXD 19+ Finals from the 2015 US Nationals.
Stephanie Lane & Kyle Yates vs Gigi LeMaster and Rafael Siebenschein. https://youtu.be/xE4ly-7xhb8
Steph goes to a lot of pickleball events. Here is a look at Stephanie Lane’s fave location for a pb tournament…I would go there…What a facility!! If there’s a place to play in heaven, it would probably resemble the beauty courts at St George, Utah:-)
Well, that’s all folks for this CC edition. Thanks to all the contributors….If any of my subscribers happen to be going down to do the tourist thing in Nashville, be sure to take your paddle. You can drop into the Lipscomb University Racquet Club for a game with the locals…You might even run into two ladies that you recognize from this article….Stephanie, LeEllen and Nashville pickleball rocks!!
I’m sending this out on Mother’s Day morning not just as an article about the Lanes’ but as a tap of the paddle to pb moms everywhere. If y’all are going out for brunch I hope it hits the spot. Have some good matches this week ladies and stay out of the kitchen.🙂
Till next time….
Thanks for the game,
P.S. – Most players in Victoria know Robin and Sandy Milliken. They play a lot at Pearkes Rec, compete in tournaments, and host the yearly Christmas Classic. I profiled them in the December 12th CC edition that is in the archives. The Milliken’s have a grandson, Hunter Molberg, who is good in sports. Some of you might have hit with him at Pearkes during the summer sessions. The link below is for the crowdfunding site to support Hunter Molberg in his hockey trip to Sweden, Iceland, & Finland. Hunter is a fine young athlete and I hope people will consider donating to his tour.