Nothing comes easy; reaching a goal requires hard work, dedication, and consistency. Karen Whitaker, a pickleball enthusiast, is a staunch advocate of following one’s passion and living an ambitious life.
Karen spent the early years of her life in the small town of Randolph, Ohio, (home of the largest 4-H fair in Ohio!) with her four siblings (all redheads). These were very humble beginnings, and eventually Karen was living on her own at 17 years of age. At the age of 20 she left college and moved to Irving, TX. In her new state she started again, finding employment as a waitress while searching for her first professional position as an Executive Assistant. Here’s how Karen describes it, “I didn’t have my degree, I didn’t have professional references, but I was going to outwork anybody and everybody. That’s who I am.” She and John would marry in 2000, and after several years raising their two sons, Karen re-entered the workforce. Her drive and attitude would eventually land her a role in Clinical Education for a medical device company. Before long she was leading a team and excelling in her new industry. After nine years she took a leap of faith and joined the first of what would be several entrepreneurial ventures.
Her dedication, hard work, and reliability would eventually land her the role of Chief Operations Officer for a startup focused on patient health monitoring. In addition to these responsibilities, she co-hosts a podcast, “HR Hardball,” along with husband John.
Things took an unexpected turn for the couple when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Like everyone else, John and Karen now had the time, but not the access, to play some of their favorite past-times. Unfortunately lockdowns closed parks, tennis courts, golf courses, basketball courts – they needed an idea. Perhaps it was fate, but two months before COVID became global news, John encountered a group of people playing pickleball and ordered a home set in hopes of having a family game at some point. It remained unopened in the garage “Another one of John’s impulse buys”, laughs Karen when she recalls the huge box collecting dust. Now, however, they opened the box, packed up the car and set up the net in a local parking lot (here is a picture of it on their website).
It wasn’t long before they were playing pickleball for hours at a time with their family and friends. Before their eyes they could see pickleball gaining more and more momentum as people packed available courts, parking lots and even streets – all for the purpose of playing this “new” game. With so many people being new to the sport, Karen realized quickly that there really was no pickleball “look.” The sparse amount of pickleball apparel that was available was, for the most part, lacking in quality and/or appeal. It was then that dink.pro was born.
Now, as Karen leads this new venture, she brings the same passion and dedication that she has displayed her entire life. Says Karen, “I’m doing what I love and loving what I do!” Connect with the couple on Instagram or Facebook and shop at dink.pro!