Joel and Melissa came to Punta Gorda from St. Louis in 2011 where we tried to be snowbirds but we quickly found that Punta Gorda was our true home. I had great opportunities during my working years as I owned restaurants and was a district manager for food service companies around the country. Since my arrival to the area, I immediately involved with eleven fellow pickleball players to start promoting Pickleball to the community with the creation of pickleball courts and club. From being the first president of Peace River Picklers club, I knew we need to keep the Pickleball movement going so my next step was to became part of the original PicklePlex® board.
Gary and his wife Donna were both high school physical education teachers and coaches. Gary then became an athletic director and President of the Olympic Conference in the state of New Jersey. Upon retiring and becoming advent pickleball players they moved to Punta Gorda. Joining the PicklePlex® Board of Directors in 2020, Gary hopes to assist in the leadership of many pickleball activities and programs.
Both Donna and Gary can usually be found “At the Plex” on a daily basis.
Director of Project Management
Hailing from Massachusetts, John and his wife Mary Ann retired and became full-time residents of Punta Gorda in 2017. Prior to retirement, John worked in the military defense industry as an Engineer for 36 years and has extensive experience in Project Management and Mechanical Design. Having never heard about pickleball, John was introduced to the sport by his wife who thought it would be a healthy, fun activity to enjoy together. Soon thereafter he became a regular on the courts, ready to chat up a good game. Once settled into retirement and seeking an opportunity to give back to the community, John joined the PicklePlex Board of Directors in September 2019 and is both honored and humbled to be involved in the continued development of PicklePlex.
Gloria is a retired teacher. She and her husband Pete moved from St. Louis, MO to Punta Gorda after playing in the 1st Peace River Picklers' Tournament in 2016. Gloria was a director for the Peace River Picklers and helped organize a pickleball tournament for the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club in the fall of 2016. Gloria and Pete are level 1 certified pickleball instructors with the IPTPA and have volunteered their time with the Peace River Picklers’ instructional program. Gloria is also a local Ambassador with the USAPA.
Mayor Nancy Prafke
City of Punta Gorda liaison
Originally from Springfield, Ohio, Nancy moved to Punta Gorda in 2005 from Evergreen, Colorado. Nancy was drawn to helping our community get back on its feet after Hurricane Charley and began volunteering with TEAM Punta Gorda, a grass-roots civic organization, in 2006. She became the volunteer CEO at the end of 2007 and provided leadership that resulted in the completion of many collaborative solutions for our community. She resigned her CEO position in April 2013, to run for the City Council position which she won. Nancy accepted the role of City Council liaison to the pickleball community in November 2016 and began working with what has now become the board of the PicklePlex. She and her husband John are avid pickleball and PicklePlex fans!