Kim Copeland and Susan Swern, residents of Boulder County, Colorado, began their pickleball journey in May of last year with simple intentions: to learn a new sport, connect socially, and stay active amidst the challenges of Covid.
Like Releasing A Huge Breath Of Air
Copeland, 62, reflects, “It felt so good. It was like releasing a huge breath of air you didn’t even know you had been holding.”
As their group expanded from 10 to 30 women, the two, who identify as lesbian, envisioned something larger: a space for pickleball that was inclusive and could also become a business.
And, just like that, the Lavender Pickleball Club was born. Swern, 63, explains, “We wanted to start a pickleball community that has an inherent openness—you can be whoever you want to be.
We wanted people to come and feel safe playing, no matter their ability, sexuality, size, or race.”
Lavender grew remarkably in less than three months, with nearly 70 women participating in the club’s first-ever tournament last October, with another planned for the same time this year.
Sustainability: Another Crucial Aspect
This event served as a platform to highlight another crucial aspect of their mission: sustainability.
Swern, who also champions environmental justice, emphasizes their commitment to a zero-waste approach, from recyclable office supplies to prizes crafted from post-consumer plastic and partnerships with eco-conscious companies like Revolin Sports, known for their eco-friendly paddles.
Presently, the Lavender Pickleball Club boasts a membership of over 300. While it welcomes everyone, the majority of its members are women.
Described as a “fun, welcoming, and social space,” the club has garnered over 1,100 Facebook followers from places as distant as Bangladesh. Copeland and Swern’s next objective is to expand the Lavender Pickleball Club’s presence nationally and internationally.
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country — and yet — I just gave it my first try this week. Tonight at 5, meet the Lavender Pickleball Club— an #LGBTQ 🏳️🌈 Women’s club who’s main goal is to create an inclusive (yet competitive) space. #fairgame #pickleball #9sports pic.twitter.com/8UzrUykCia— Arielle Orsuto (@ArielleOrsuto) July 28, 2022
More Than Just A Sport
Swern envisions it as more than just a sport but a way of life and perspective, saying, “We just know that there are people around the country who don’t have this family.”
Their events are centered throughout Colorado’s front range (Fort Collins – Denver – Colorado Springs), but already, one of their coaches has established a satellite Lavender Pickleball Club in Arizona, where she spends the winter.
Swern also points out, “The reason why so many people come to us is that we’re not intimidating.”
In addition to its ideological inclusivity, the club strives to ensure all players, especially those new to pickleball, feel at ease. They provide paddles to beginners, offer introductory courses, and conduct regular clinics catering to all skill levels.
Swern sums it all up by saying, “When you come here, you do not have to worry about anything. What you look like, how you act, how you play. You just come and be you.”
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