WHEN TROY KONZ, a trained chef and military veteran, and his wife, Susan, first arrived in Sun City Grand, a planned community in Surprise, Arizona, for a visit with friends, “we just went, ‘Oh, my God, I’m home.’” A big part of that sense of belonging is the Sun City Grand Pickleball Club, of which Konz is now president. “With over 1,400 members, we’re one of the biggest clubs in the nation, and certainly the largest club in the area,” Konz explains. But what really sets it apart is the group’s passion for volunteering.
Under Konz’s leadership, the club started hosting tournaments to raise money for local food banks and Soldier’s Best Friend, an organization that trains rescue dogs to be support animals for veterans with PTSD. And it has informal opportunities for members to volunteer as well. Last year, when Susan asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and he said she should just donate to a homeless shelter on his behalf, she suggested, “Why don’t you get the club involved in helping out?” Konz floated the idea past them.
“Suffice it to say, I lost most of my garage and all of my spare bedroom to clothes, shoes, blankets for donation,” he says, laughing. “And the club nonstop keeps it going,” collecting a steady stream of goods for those in need.
Of course, it’s not all giving back. There’s plenty of organized play, including training clinics and skills certification for members. But Konz is proudest of the club’s strong camaraderie. As part of its continuous service improvements, more than 500 club members took first aid and defibrillator training to provide assistance to players who suffer health crises on the courts. To date, that training has saved the lives of five players.
Saving lives, helping the homeless, hitting dinks? It’s all par for the course for this crew. In fact, Konz promises, “If you want to put a man on the moon, the Sun City Grand Pickleball Club can do that for you.”