Pickleball Passion — Explaining the Fast-Growing Sport with Steve Hocker and Keith Johnson


Every morning this week, I’ve headed over to Hounz Lane Park and spent an hour or two playing pickleball. I just discovered the sport in March, began playing in April, and have really honed in on it recently. In the local pickleball community, I got my info from the Derby City Pickleball Facebook page, operated by my guest Keith Johnson. And Keith introduced me to Steve Hocker, a retired local businessman who is an accomplished player and instructor. We went to Tom Sawyer Park a few days before the opening of the state’s largest pickleball complex. (see Story here).

In my conversation with Keith and Steve, I learned a lot about the sport – the fact that it’s considered the fastest-growing activity in the U.S., for one. And as we sat under a tree at a picnic table adjacent to the new courts, I could feel the energy and enthusiasm over the new courts. Finally the city will be able to play host to tournaments and other competitions, and the sport can act as an economic development engine to bring people here.

Credit for the new complex goes to the Tom Sawyer State Park Foundation, which had the foresight three years ago to convert six of its tennis courts into a 16-court pickleball facility. It got the $100,000 to do it from the state in an effort led by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a pickleballer herself. This Saturday, there will be official ribbon-cutting, demonstrations, vendors and a lot of people who love to play the game. You’ll learn a lot more by listening to the interviews.

Also this weekend, the J-town Beer Fest is the marquee event on Saturday. You heard all about it from Deana Karem on last week’s show. The tourism numbers around here are growing exponentially. Waterfront Wednesday returned for the first time this week. So everything is headed in the right direction, at least for those with the vaccine. If you’re one of those people who haven’t gotten vaccinated, just stay home. please.

Thanks to Home Cuisine, Hectare’s CBD and eXp Realty for sponsoring the show.