Upstate Pickleball lost someone dear to many of us in 2019, Walter Jacobs. Walter always brought humor and an upbeat spirit to the court. To keep Walter’s fun-loving attitude, Upstate Pickleball recognizes a player who goes above and beyond to grow the game of Pickleball with the Walter Jacobs Spirit Award.

Walter’s daughter, Alicia Hill, plays very often with us. She recently wrote a short remembrance of her father.

There are so many new pickleball players who never knew Daddy that I wanted to give you a glimpse of his life. This is my dad, Walter Jacobs. 

Daddy went to Berea College in Kentucky, a no tuition college where students work their way through.  His job was a bell hop for the college hotel, Boone’s Tavern.  Out of boredom, he began hitting tennis balls against a wall in the basement while waiting to be called to take luggage.  He tried out for the college tennis team, made the team, and the rest is history. 

He loved tennis as I know so many pickleball players do.  And then, in his 70s, he found pickleball.  He and my son, Jacob, went to Gower to play tennis and found Gary Allen who introduced them to the greatest sport in the world. 

I am so thankful that Daddy introduced me to pickleball.  How many sports are there where three generations can all play together?  That is the greatness of pickleball! 

Daddy not only loved the game, he loved sitting under the tree at Gower between games laughing, telling stories, and fellowshipping with people- he loved people. 

He was still playing pickleball at 86 years young, and he would be so honored that the Pickleball Spirit Award is given in his memory. 

On October 31, 2019 my dad died unexpectedly.  But I know that his life was full, no regrets, and he loved to a fault.  My precious Daddy, Walt.

— Alicia Hill