Rick Casse – Making it Happen

You won’t find Rick Casse playing in Pickleball tournaments.  But he’s one of those quiet types whose volunteer spirit and dedication deserves a trophy for all he has done to get Pickleball established around town.

Rick and his wife Liz began playing pickleball almost six years ago at the old Golden Gate Park Tennis Courts.  Willie Chen, another early Pickleball advocate at Louis Sutter Playground, had been in contact with SF Rec & Park about adding more pickleball venues. Progress was slow, and without indoor courts, limited by the weather.

A local resident, Rick stopped by the Upper Noe Valley Rec Center (UNVRC) to see their gym.  Among the many lines painted on the gym floor were four badminton courts.  While a badminton court has a no-volley zone (kitchen) that is half-a-foot shallower, the boundary lines work for Pickleball.  A conversation with Center Director Cheryl Woltjen and her boss, Tobey Wiley, culminated in a one day a week trial. The trial was successful, hours were extended, and an extra day of play was added.

Pickleball at UNVRC took off.  “Some days we had over 50 people queued up to play before the pandemic shut everything down,” Rick noted.  As an ad-hoc “host” of the site, Rick was always involved in welcoming and training new arrivals, including a group of home-schooled kids at one point.  He made sure equipment was always available and play rotation went smoothly.

When the outdoor tennis court at UNVRC was being resurfaced in 2019, Rick convinced Cheryl to paint PB lines on UNVRC’s single tennis court.  A couple of players loaned nets to the Rec Center for check-out, and outdoor play was off and running.  The courts are multi-use and are booked through the Rec & Park Tennis reservation system when not reserved for Pickleball use during scheduled PB drop-in session hours.

“We’ve introduced a number of players to pickleball at UNVRC over the years,” Rick said in his low-key manner. Yes he has – well done, Rick.

- Judy Goddess