If you had asked Callie Smith BS’15 how she felt about pickleball a decade ago, her response wouldn’t have been positive. In fact, Smith had a passionate disdain for the sport, which led her to confidently claim that she would never touch a pickleball paddle as long as she lived.
Her intense dislike of pickleball didn’t extend to all paddle sports. Smith grew up playing tennis, taking state all four years in high school and going on to play for the U. After graduation, she was coaching tennis when her husband’s grandpa asked her to play in a pickleball tournament with him. Hesitantly, Smith agreed, and afterward was approached by a local pickleball ambassador. Smith thought nothing of it until later, when she and her husband, Kyle, were playing pickleball on a date, and an older couple challenged them to a game. “We got crushed—just demolished,” Smith says. She called up the rep, started practicing with a local group in Kaysville, and the rest is history.
Now, as No. 2 in PPA Women’s Doubles and No. 4 in Women’s Singles, Smith has adopted pickleball as a way of life. “All my best friends have come through pickleball. Just really cool people.” In her “ample” spare time, Smith loves being with family—even if that means bringing her kids to practice, because, as she puts it, “you can be you and a mom.”
And for any naysayers of the sport, Smith says to “just go out and try it. You might find that you change your mind.”
+ADVICE FROM A PRO
If you’re a beginner, get the basics down; learn the optimal techniques first. There’s only a certain level you can reach with your own technique versus correct technique. It’s a lot harder to break bad habits than it is to start them correctly.
If you’re trying to go pro, play a lot of tournaments, because losing is learning. The match play brings out the pressure and exacerbates what the weakness is in your game, so go play a lot. And then drill, drill, drill afterwards.