In any lifetime, there may be but a few moments where one can say, “That was perfect.” Well, not only a moment, but an entire weekend of perfection happened at The Colosseum, a pickleball clinic and exhibition put on by Engage Pickleball December 2-4, 2016 at the Stonecrest Country Club just outside The Villages, Florida. Several factors had to synchronize in order for these “extraordinary three days” to occur.
First, the logistics set, which if any one had been wrong, would have resulted in only a good, not perfect event.
- Location: A pleasant setting with big trees and a lake view and easy to access.
- Equipment: Hundreds of new Pickleballs and dozens of Engage paddles to try out and use.
- Courts: Eight courts that were in excellent condition with fencing to divide the four skill level sections.
- Food: Fully-catered breakfast and lunch on site, in a covered location on a hill overlooking the courts.
- Weather: Excellent - bright and cool sunshiny days creating a pleasant environment for playing loads of PB, 7am to 6pm most days. Just one rainy day would have been a downer for the participants. The pickleball gods looked kindly on The Colosseum.
Second, the coaches, around whom the weekend revolved. The outstanding selection of coaches engendered The Colosseum’s magic and its special feeling.
Robert Elliott, owner of Engage Pickleball, brought in three National Championship Pros, and these four, including Robert, were each a coach, an instructor and a player, giving the event a robustness that surpassed the sum total of its individual parts. All four pros were National Champions many times over and IPTPA (International Pickleball Teacher Professional Association) instructors and together they forged pickleball instruction time that was fun, informative, corrective, insightful and brilliant. The hot fudge on top of the ice cream sundae was every one of the four pros had a unique sense of humor and humanity that meshed nicely with the colorful group of 48 students and brought out the best in the event participants.
A few words about each Pro Instructor:
Matthew Blom: Different voice. Different pace. Deals with health and spirit. The Zen master.
Robert Elliott: A pro's pro. Committed. Pickleball visionary. Logistics virtuoso.
Marcin Roepedski: Larger than life. Positive. Funny. Energetic. Best player in the world.
Brian Staub: A veteran pro. Master teacher. Best drill chief ever. Humorist. Communicative. Fun.
Bonus Coaches: Jodi Elliott & Coach Mo. Jodi melded her talented PB instruction with humor and Coach Mo conveyed with stories and demonstrations his many years of experience teaching pickleball.
Each pro spent an hour a day working with six players at a time, for four intense hours of instruction each day, usually more, plus open play. The pickleball players/students were an enthusiastic and eager-to-improve group of 3.0 to 4.5 players. The artistry of this event was created by the time spent learning pickleball concepts and skills from four top professional voices, each bringing a fresh angle to what was being taught, from the serve to the 3rd shot to strategy. Every instructor had an assistant from the talented Engage Team helping out with drills and this additional support amplified the effectiveness of the pickleball instruction and drills.
Bonus Highlight 1: Friday evening, under lights, the four pros put on a pickleball exhibition which featured newly certified referee Josh Elliott calling the score while Jodi Elliott and Brian Staub interjected humorous commentary as the games progressed. The scores and who won didn’t matter; the élan and skill elicited by the players electrified the audience as they showcased the best of pickleball. An awesome performance to end a twelve hour day of pickleball.
Bonus Highlight 2: Saturday evening the coaches and players convened for dinner, drinks, live music and dancing at the Stonecrest Country Club dining facility, all part of The Colosseum package. A special time.
Finally, the Engage Team, the schedule, the pro teachers, the instructional plan, the facilities, the logistics and an assist from the fine weather all coalesced into a weekend that may well be proclaimed a once-in-a-lifetime pickleball experience. Une bonne vie!