Center is John Struthers with his wife Yvonne
Right is Tom Burkhart, Mid-South Regional Ambassador
Left is Mike Morgan local ambassador, Memphis
2010 Mid-South Pickleball Pioneer Award
John retired to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1990 where he found out about pickleball via an advertisement in the local newspaper. Curiosity got the best of him and he learned how to play the game and "had the most fun he'd had in years".
In September 1997 he moved to Johnson City, Tennessee located in East Tennessee. There was no pickleball in the area. He was addicted to the game, so he located a place to play and started a group there. Most of the players were line dancers at the Senior Center. He found them to be in good shape and very active. The group started with 17 players as word of mouth spread among seniors. By the time he left Johnson City, the word had spread and pickleball is now flourishing in the Tri-Cities area.
He moved to Memphis in October 1998 and was faced with the same situation as in Johnson City,no pickleball! He started Pickleball there at the Germantown Athletic Club, a member only facility, and could only recruit players from the members. He set up a court and regularly practiced serving and invited others to play until he found someone whose interest was piqued. He then taught him the game and they played singles. Others soon became interested and learned the game. The group then grew too large for just the one court he was able to set up, so he found another indoor location where he could set up three courts.
Once the location was moved, he was able to recruit from a larger base. Currently we have a group of approximately 30 players and play Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9AM until 11AM and Tuesday evenings from 6:30PM until 8:30PM. John has been the catalyst for Pickleball in the area and for getting it into the Memphis district Senior Games and the Tennessee State Games. The group has been fluid with some leaving the area and moving to other cities. John's influence on these players has led to the development of Pickleball in other locales.
Many look to John as our grandfather of pickleball and rely on him to be our trainer of new players. He has distinguished himself through unselfish dedication to the game, developing new locations, teaching and expanding it's presence. He's a gentleman and wonderful example to others. A true leader and down to earth person whose sportsmanship and character are exemplary. His 18 years of participation in Pickleball has indicated nothing but love for the game and a sincere interest in spreading the "fever".
John and his Pickleball Group