Life in La Cruz: Pickleball Inspires La Cruz Kids

Joan Gil grew up in Yonkers, New York. She met her handsome Eduardo (an architect) in Mexico City. They married and raised three daughters in Mexico City, Juárez and El Paso, Texas. In 2009 they retired and moved to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Joan loves when her ‘proudest achievements’ visit – her six grandkids!

When I met Joan nine years ago she had no voice and was fighting cancer. Today at 74 she speaks with passion and told me,  “I am beating cancer!” Joan is a force to reckon and does much for our community. Always active, Joan loves swimming and boogie boarding four or five times per week. She’s always played tennis and when she found pickleball she was hooked and now plays either sport five times a week.

In the last three years, the number of expat pickleball players has increased from a few to over 250 people throughout the Banderas Bay area. In La Cruz, there are eleven courts at the marina and various other locations.

Joan is inspired by children, an inspiration that has informed her entire life. She taught for 40 years and was honored with Teacher of the Year for the State of Texas and was a national finalist. She wrote and implemented multiple grants for her school district that reached the million-dollar mark. In La Cruz Joan initially spearheaded the curriculum for the summer school camp for local children and her ‘current’ favourite cause is the Telesecundaria in La Cruz; she’s always involved in teaching and learning. 

Joan’s passion for pickleball extends far beyond exercise. Joan and others are teaching 150 middle school students during the school year and she’s raising funds for both the school year and summer camps thru 2019.  The summer camp project will allow for thirty students to carry on through the year at the local school, but lacks basic necessities.

If, like me, you have no idea what this sport is, I checked Wikipedia; Pickleball is a paddle sport (similar to a racquet sport) that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a wiffle ball, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports, the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules are somewhat similar to tennis, with several modifications.

Joan is joined by five teachers and two coaches which include a professional tennis teacher and a local school quarterback.

Their mission is to continue to improve the pickleball program and to educate secondary students, empowering them to collaborate, respect others, and enjoy physical activities in safe and positive environments. Their goals include developing students to participate at both recreational and competitive levels and to invest in and improve the playing facilities.

The cost per student is $3.33 usd per child per year. To meet Joan, watch the children play and learn how to get involved visit:

In similar news:

Clara Sabina and Claudia Mclean, La Cruz winter expats from Vancouver Island, BC, won the Gold Medal in the women’s 4.0 category at the Canadian National Pickleball Championships in Kelowna, BC this past weekend.

Go forth and Pickleball, La Cruz’ers!

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Cindy Bouchard
Cindy Bouchard, an expat Canadian runs a Boutique Hotel, Villa Amor del Mar, in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. She and her husband Chris are living and lovin’ in Vallarta–Nayarit. If you want more info on La Cruz or desire… A very special vacation contact Cindy via