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Celebrating Mothers on the PPA Tour

Author: Andrew Gilman | July 11, 2023

There’s no balance between being a mother and being a pickleball player.

“I don’t believe in having balance in life,” said Allyce Jones.

“I’m not balancing it,” said Lindsey Newman.

“I’m not balancing,” said Brooke Buckner.

When it comes to mothers who compete on the PPA Tour, and there are more than a few, all of them said that balancing between being a player and being a mother doesn’t really exist.

It’s one and then it’s another.

“It just takes planning ahead,” said Lina Padegimaite. “There’s childcare, meal planning, activity planning. When I put the effort in to plan things out, I can be more present as a mom and on the pickleball court.”

And so many agree with what Padegimaite said. It’s not about being balanced, it’s about being present.

“I really focus on using my time intentionally,” Buckner said. “If I’m with my kids, I try to be all in with them and not focus on pickleball or other things. When I’m training, I try to focus my time on that and not mess around. Training intentionally is huge, so I’m not away from the family anymore than I need to be.”

Being a professional pickleball player takes a lot of effort and most of it has little to do with the tournaments. While most of us fans are focused on who wins and who loses at the biggest competitions in pickleball, it’s the time and the energy before, and leading up to tournaments that matters the most. So, being a mother means decisions have to be made.

“When I feel bad about how little I practice pickleball, especially compared to most of the other pros, I will tell myself, ‘quality over quantity,” Newman said. “I’m being a mom first and foremost and then when I have ‘free time’ I try to get out onto the pickleball courts and drill. Pickleball will always be there. However, my girls are only little for a very short amount of time, and I don’t want to miss it. I wish I could be half as great of a mom as my mom and some other moms in my life are.” 

Pickleball requires full attention. Obviously, so does being a mother.

“I believe that wherever I am, I just need to be in the present,” Jones said. “For example, if I’m playing with my kids, I’m not thinking about pickleball.”

What happens when the two come together? They did at a recent tournament when Padegimaite made a semifinal match but her nanny wasn’t available. Lea Jansen stepped in and helped “babysit” and entertain while Padegimaite competed. 

“She was beyond sweet to help,” Padegimaite said. “It really takes a village. My son knows that mommy competes and plays pickleball all the time. I love to have him as my biggest fan. He has been asking me daily ‘what did you do today’ (In Lithuanian) did you play pickleball?’ I used to have him on the courts all the time. But I try to not have him at all my matches because it’s a distraction as it’s hard to turn off the ‘Mom Brain’ at times.”

But sometimes having family around makes wins better and losses not quite as bad.

“They can be a handful,” Newman said. “So I usually only bring one at a time. It’s an absolute blast though. After a tough loss, seeing their precious face makes me forget how awful I feel. And after a great win, I remember how incredibly lucky I am both on and off the court.”

Well, the PPA Tour is off this week, so that means today will be filled with lots of family time and maybe even some pickleball, too – a rare occasion to bring the two things together.

“We will definitely be playing pickleball,” Jones said. “I play with my husband and kids and our family’s favorite match up is Me and Cal (6) vs. Leah (10) and Mick (8).”

And there won’t be any family “grudge match” with the Buckners today, but there could be a competitive match.

“My son has become increasingly interested in pickleball, so we might make an appearance at the courts,” Buckner said. He’s only three, so who knows how it will go!” 

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