October 11, 2020
In honour of National Coaches Week, and as a member of Pickleball Hamilton (a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 2014 as Pickleball Hamilton Association), recognizing Matthew, Jessica and Linda Kawamoto is easy to do and well deserved.
As a lesser known racquet sport to squash, badminton or tennis, pickleball’s popularity has grown exponentially in Canada and the US over the last few years, particularly with grassroots organizations like Pickleball Hamilton (https://pickleballhamilton.com) fueling its success.
Laying one of the early foundations in Ontario almost a decade ago, Pickleball Hamilton was one of the first organizations to successfully lobby for and have built in partnership with The City of Hamilton, 24 dedicated pickleball courts at Hill Park (12) and, most recently, at Confederation Park (12). Pickleball Hamilton continues to be a thriving association with a large number of dedicated volunteers that promote inclusiveness, accessibility and raising the level of pickleball in Hamilton.
It all started for the Kawamotos when Linda introduced her family to pickleball in 2014. Today, the entire family shares a passion for the sport and are active participants in tournaments across North America. Together, Matt, Linda and Jessica have an impressive 150+ medals; Matt and Jessica are pro-level, US Open Gold Medalists. For most, that probably would have been enough. Yet, what is remarkable about the Kawamotos is their steadfast humbleness, work ethic and contagious energy they continue to bring to the sport to this day.
Matt, in particular, is one of those truly good people whose energy and passion for coaching seems boundless. In 40+ years of sport, Matt is the only coach I have ever had that comes to teach with only his skill, big smile and 3 balls in his pocket, ready to work with you at your level and lead you to achieve real results. His court sense and knowledge of strategy are well beyond his years and it is so easy to forget that he is only 25 and his competitive career is only getting started. To me, that makes him a Canadian coach to watch and, with the support of Jessica and Linda, the difference makers to Pickleball Hamilton and pickleball players across Ontario.
“There are players who coach, and then there are coaches who play. Spend an hour with Matt and you'll know which one he is. I've taken lessons with him back when I was a beginner who couldn't grip a paddle and as an intermediate with bad habits holding me back. No matter where I am in my game, Matt always pushes me to improve and makes me feel like I can reach the next level. Two years in, I'm happy that I can call him both a coach and a friend.” - Jacob McLellan, member since 2018
“A lesson with Matt is like a morning coffee. I look forward to it. I savour every moment and I feel energized to tackle the rest of my day. Matt focusses on every second of the lesson. Nothing is more important. I do believe that I am getting better. Look out, summer 2021! “ – Connie Wilson, member since 2018
So, cheers to you Matt, Linda and Jess during National Coaches Week and all that you bring to the game of pickleball. You make a world of difference to your students and we all owe you a big #ThanksCoach!