Singles Mingle displays real heart for lovers of pickleball

The explosive growth of pickleball can be measured in a variety of ways, what with courts blossoming like wildflowers around the country and various tournaments sprouting up that aim to meet the competitive hunger you find in the sport.

But competition isn’t the only thing served by pickleball – don’t forget companionship.

A growing number of people are finding love and real, authentic connections through their love of the game, with one example being the Pickleball Singles Mingle organization. Buoyed by a number of chapters nationally and abroad, there are about 15,000 members in the Singles Mingle orbit.

Founded by Karen Butera in 2022, Pickleball Singles Mingle has created a framework for pickleball play that makes it easy for romantically unattached people to have a natural way to meet. Friendships are also easier to grow through this approach, and the group has made multiple trips to locations such as Costa Rica, Turks and Caicos, and coming this summer, to the inaugural PickleCon 2024 in Kansas City, produced by Triple Crown Sports.  

Butera said the sight of people creating new relationships has been a pleasure, although keeping the nuts and bolts of the concept working smoothly can be a bit of a demand.

“It’s been a learning experience for all of us,” Butera said. “I’ve always been pretty organized, but the challenge is that I’m retired, and I’d like to enjoy my retirement and not do too much administrative stuff. We’ve formed a board of directors, and then volunteers are coming to help with some of the organization. It’s been quite a ride.”

Not all chapters are as organized and dedicated to planning ahead as the Florida mothership, but Butera does what she can to communicate and share her insights.

“Our group set up to be all-inclusive; it’s wide open to join as long as you are single and like to play,” she said. “I don’t particularly like formal competition, and I enjoy more social, casual play. We have room for every kind of player, and there’s a (romantic) match out there for every player.

“Some folks are seeking a life partner who plays at a very high level, and others who are more socially inclined and everything in between. We kind of let things happen naturally. Our big festivals, we throw in some very competitive events, and you can try that out or not.”

Butera came across news of PickleCon 2024 and saw a graceful fit for her group. The event will take place Aug. 8-11 at the Kansas City Convention Center with more than 100 courts housing tournament play at all levels along with camps, clinics, pro player action and a vendor row.

“I saw the Pickleball festival coming to Kansas City, not just offering the number of courts but the vendors and all the other things, I got super excited and shared it with people who’d been to other festivals,” Butera added. “They got super excited; since COVID we’d been longing for something like it. We should have a pretty large contingent coming to Kansas City.”

The Singles Mingle group will have a mixer at the Convention Center (room TBA) currently scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Aug. 9.

For more information on the organization, feel free to contact Karen Butera at (330) 418-7943.

PickleCon 2024 details can be found here: Home - PickleCon 2024