Thanks for Your Contributions, Dick
by Marilyn Holladay, USAPA Board Member
Dick Manasseri, like so many others, started playing pickleball and quickly became addicted. After developing his own skills under the tutelage of Pat Sullivan, he wanted to help spread the pleasure to those around him, so turned his talents to teaching others how to play.
In a short time, Dick became the USAPA Ambassador for the Greater Rochester area and spread his enthusiasm to all of southeast Michigan. Soon his influence extended into other parts of Michigan and he became the Regional Ambassador for the Great Lakes. During his time in this position, the region grew to become the second largest in the country.
In the spring of 2009, having left a highly visible trail of accomplishments in growing the sport throughout the Great Lakes Region, Dick was asked to take on the position of USAPA Director of National and International Relations. Always willing to contribute, Dick accepted. He threw himself into this new challenge.
Drawing on his creativity and regular communication with Ambassadors around the country, Dick came up with several new ideas. He initiated the concept of Ambassadors creating mini-plans to help them identify and focus their efforts in growing the sport. By sharing the plans with all the other Ambassadors, good ideas could be implemented in many different regions.
Ambassadors were encountering similar problems and having to reinvent the wheel each time to solve that problem. To address that information issue Dick led the effort to create the "USAPA How to" on-line discussion group for ambassadors across the country to share ideas, ask questions and solve problems with the help of others.
One of the ideas that had worked for Dick that he shared was going to state, regional or national conventions of PE teachers or Recreation Directors to get them to see the benefits of pickleball for their programs. Another successful strategy is offering free beginner lessons to get people hooked.
That on-line discussion forum has evolved into the "Pickleball Promoters How-to Guide" found at http://howtoguide.usapa.org/ . This guide is now available to all, Ambassadors or not, after being honed by Dick and the discussion group. Hopefully many will take these best practices and spread the sport even further.
On the international front, he corresponded frequently with the primary pickleball promoter in India, always providing support and sharing ideas.
Many of Dick's ideas have spread and been improved upon across the country. Dick has stepped down from his USAPA position as Director of National and International Relations, but his vision lives on as others do the same kinds of things he is so good at --- taking the nets, balls, and paddles to a group of people and getting them charged up to play.