Let’s Get Better Acquainted | TheUnion.com

Let’s Get Better Acquainted

Over the course of the last month, we have explored new pickleball regulations and events at the national level, as well as discussed the current happenings here in Lake Wildwood. In this edition, I am returning to introducing our new players with the intent of getting better acquainted.

Shirley and Ron Richards

My first couple is Shirley and Ron Richards. They have lived in Lake Wildwood 15 years but only recently have gotten involved in pickleball. When they moved here from Fairfield, their sons were young and very active in sports of all kinds. Ron got involved in coaching the soccer, baseball and wrestling teams while Shirley enjoyed bunco groups, book clubs, and yoga. They lead active lives. Most recently, Shirley has become an outstanding flamenco dancer, performing with 15 other ladies of Lake Wildwood. She grew up singing and dancing with her younger sister in many community venues.

While chatting about their many interests, they referred to “jeeping” and attending the “Jeeper Jamboree,” which is on the Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe. I was schooled in the concept of “rock rollers,” people in little jumpsuits who guide you over and around obstacles such as boulders. It was explained that the tires are significantly deflated and the jeep is traveling around three miles per hour. I pursued my need to understand and visualize this activity so long that they conceded that they would have to take me some time.

Also somewhat surprising was their interest in scuba diving. They loved their times in Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. They have traveled quite a bit and already have tickets to visit Italy in the fall. In addition, high on the bucket list is a trip to Spain in the spring to enjoy the festivals.

Ron and Shirley met at Chico State while she was getting a degree in nursing and he in construction management. Both have dedicated their careers to these fields. Shirley went on to get her Masters in nursing and is a nurse practitioner for a dermatology practice in Marysville. They just celebrated their younger son’s college graduation and wished him well as he embarked on the Pacific Crest Trail. Their older son has just returned from living in Reno and has launched his own business in property management here in Lake Wildwood.

Originally from Paradise, Ron was attracted to a lifestyle with a more rural setting. Even though they lived in Fairfield, all the family outings seemed to land them in this area. They love boating and camping and frequently combine the two on weekends at Bullards Bar or Englebright Dam. Eventually, they decided to leave the hectic pace of the Bay Area and relocate to Penn Valley. They were impressed by the schools, and their sons thrived with all the outdoor activities and sports. Ron loves fly fishing, cooking, and is just now taking up golf. Shirley is gaining stronger skills in pickleball despite the fact that she can only play two nights a week due to her work schedule.

They are a fun-loving couple and enjoy the status of empty nesters. We had lots of laughs during our interview, and I’m going to take them up on the promise to go “jeeping.”


Heather and Mark Foster.

he second couple you will meet is Heather and Mark Foster. They moved to Lake Wildwood one year ago from Grass Valley. The friendliness of the neighbors here immediately impressed them. Invitations to come and try pickleball persisted enthusiastically by none other than Bruce and Donna. What better promoters could we have? They also credit Victor’s orientation as to the reason they became so quickly enamored of the game. Additionally, during the introduction, they met other newbies and formed fast friendships. Now, they play three evenings a week and enjoy it immensely.

Heather is originally from Reno and spent her college years in Eastern Oregon, where she finished with an elementary teaching credential. She currently teaches in a charter school in Nevada City. Her class is a multi-level grade combining kindergarten, first and second. She was instrumental in developing this model, which is designed to have children complete three years with the same class and teacher. Throughout her career as an educator, she has always focused her passion in the realm of early childhood development.

Mark is originally from Boston but also claims Phoenix as a large part of his growing-up years. His college years included some East Coast experiences and eventually, he ended up at UC Davis, finishing his degree in oenology, which is the study of wine making. Mark has just two months left before retiring a 30-year career with Nevada City Winery.

It was a TGIF event with school staff and winery workers that brought Heather and Mark together at first. Neither wanted any part of the karaoke singing so they busied themselves selecting music and got to talking. Given the fact that neither had any interest in dating, they first got together by going hiking. Long hikes and lots of talking started a wonderful friendship. It wasn’t until later, after embarking on international hiking trips to destinations such as Nepal, that they acknowledged that they had become much more than best friends. That was ten years ago.

As mentioned previously, their friendship started with hiking, but that doesn’t begin to cover all their impressive interests. They are serious backpackers who had to postpone a trip to Chile to backpack/hike across the Andes due to Covid. It has been rescheduled for next year. The Nepal trip in 2013 was a full-month trek adventure encompassing the entire Annapurna Circuit. This September, after dropping the youngest of three daughters at college, they will take a two-and-a-half-month trip camping across the northern US, arriving in New England to see the fall colors. After resting a while, they plan to continue down the East Coast to see friends and family. Eventually, they will make a stop in Tennessee to see Heather’s sister.

Snowshoeing and downhill skiing are favorite activities in the winter and paddle boarding and kayaking are wedged in to those weekends in Lake Wildwood. Of course, pickleball is the diversion of choice lately. If these two people don’t seem active enough, let me add the fact that Mark is a mountain climber as well! He has traveled the world climbing mountains like the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, and Patagonia in Argentina.

Heather and Mark are looking forward to things opening up here in Wildwood. Excited about the 4th of July activities and the clubhouse having live entertainment, they love the vibe they feel here. The people have such upbeat and positive attitudes. Their experiences on the pickleball court have been filled with friendship, fun and lots of laughter. What could be better?

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