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From Navy Corpsman to Pickleball Ambassador: Gabe George's Journey with MACS and Pickleball

Updated: Oct 7

Gabe George is the Director of Pickleball at Military Adaptive Court Sports (MACS). His unwavering passion for playing and instructing pickleball knows no geographical boundaries, as he firmly believes, "If there’s a desire in the heart of veterans, we’ll make it there.”

Gabe’s Quest to Find A New Purpose

Gabe George, a retired Navy corpsman, faced a life-altering motorcycle accident resulting in the paralysis of his right arm, which later needed amputation. In his quest to discover a new sense of purpose, Gabe's journey led him to the world of adaptive sports. It was through this path that he became acquainted with MACS, an organization that would become instrumental in developing his passion for pickleball. Gabe not only found fulfillment in playing the sport but also discovered his talent and love for teaching others the game.

Humbling Pickleball Beginnings

Immediately, Gabe fell in love with pickleball. He enjoyed how he could play several games and not feel beat up afterward. He got his start playing at a local church where he lives in Jacksonville, Florida. His opponents consisted of individuals in their seventies and eighties. Recalling his initial experience, Gabe humorously remarked, "I had an eighty-four-year-old man stand in one spot and laugh while he whooped my butt and ran me around the whole court."

Spreading the Pickleball Passion Through MACS

Military Adaptive Court Sports is a phenomenal organization dedicated to teaching and promoting adaptive sports to disabled armed service members and veterans. Currently, their programs include pickleball, racquetball, and badminton, with plans to introduce padel tennis soon. All MACS instructors are certified and specially trained to work with individuals with disabilities.

I’ve had the honor of traveling all over the country teaching. I've taught hundreds and hundreds of veterans, able-bodied, and non-able-bodied people. It's my love. And when I'm not underwater diving or something, with my dog, or my daughter, I'm on the court somewhere.

Pickleball and DUPR: Ageless, Genderless, and for All Abilities

Pickleball aligns seamlessly with MACS due to its inclusivity.

Everybody can play. You don't have to be a pro. I've taught kids, older folks, people who can barely walk, knee replacements, and people with visual impairments who can hear the different sounds and different balls. It’s very adaptive.

The DUPR rating system is beneficial in that it matches players up evenly based on skill level regardless of age, mobility, gender, and any other factors.

It’s very helpful. Once you play a while you can understand how the rating changes. And I love the growth of how the rating system has changed. It’s always updating, it’s really great for what we’ve got going on right now. It’s helped get a judge of who you’re playing against. It’s not just about your age and your mobility, skill level is skill level. If you’re a master of your craft, it shouldn’t matter your age.

Making Their Way to Waterfall Nationals

MACS and their director, Gabe, are making their way to the 2023 DUPR Waterfall Nationals in Rockwall, Texas, October 12-15. MACS will have a sports clinic each morning from 10 a.m. to noon.

Gabe enjoys the DUPR Waterfall format of four matches in four hours which means four times the fun.

I love it because you get to play more. You get to mix with multiple different types of pickleball players and their different styles. I like what they’re doing with it, and I can see it being incorporated in a lot of other tournaments and events too.

He also mentioned the struggle that many of us have experienced with other tournament styles:

You’re sitting there and you've been waiting for hours and hours to play and just get to play that one game and then it's done. So, yeah, I think anytime it comes to a tournament when you’re guaranteed to get to play, that's going to light you up and make you want to be there more.

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If you're interested in learning more or participating in MACS, visit: Military Adaptive Court Sports. In the words of Gabe, "If there's a desire in the heart of veterans, we'll make it there."

To watch the full interview on YouTube, click here.

Additionally, sign up for the DUPR Waterfall Nationals in Rockwall, Texas! Registration closes Friday, October 6. We look forward to seeing you there!

To learn more about the Waterfall format, visit our website: DUPR Waterfall

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