Business

Meet John and Karen Whitaker: Pickleball Enthusiasts and Founders of dink.pro

We know the challenges the pandemic brought. Strangely enough, for many people, these challenges also provided opportunities that may have been otherwise missed.

We were forced, literally, to stop our business lives and wait….and wait…and wait. Busy professionals now had more free time than ever before, allowing many hidden talents to come to the surface. Two people in that category are John and Karen Whitaker, pickleball enthusiasts and founders of dink.pro. Both are long-time sports and fitness fan atics, but they rarely had the free time to be more than occasional participants. But now? It wasn’t long before a new “hobby” became a full-blown passion. And they were not alone, as the sport created a new-found craze for millions of people seeking a fun diversion from the craziness in the world. The rapid and sudden growth also revealed another opportunity, states Karen, “There wasn’t any apparel specifically for pickleball. It seemed to be a mish-mash of whatever clothes people had accumulated from other sports.” The 40% growth in pickleball motivated the Whitakers to create a fashionable, fun pickleball brand of apparel and dink.pro was born!

Married since 1999, John and Karen have two sons and very stable careers. John is currently a Chief People Officer for a healthcare provider (anesthesia), and Karen is a Major Gifts Officer for a ministry outreach; now pickleball is also a part of their lifestyle.  The “Pandemic Picklers,” create designs that explicitly represent pickleball players, a missing element the Whitakers found as they became more active in the sport. “Pickleball has its own language and its own vibe..”, explained Karen, “we wanted to make clothing that represented that!”

Karen continues to be a dedicated and regular player, while John indulges in pickleball whenever he gets a chance. She has put her heart and soul into this venture, visited numerous camps, tournaments, and pickleball facilities, and is a founding member of their community “Paddle Club,” which already fields over 500 members. 

A natural connector, Karen has talked to pickleball ambassadors, instructors, fellow enthusiasts, and even professional players to understand the exploding growth of this sport. The dynamic duo firmly believes that pickleball brings a sense of unity and togetherness, unlike any other sport. The all-inclusive sport caters to every demographic from grandparents to grandkids.

John and Karen foresee an excellent future for pickleball – insiders predict as many as 40 million players playing the sport worldwide by 2030. Considering pickleball’s ongoing popularity, Karen plans to continue to expand the dink.pro brand by partnering with clubs, camps, ambassadors, charities, and other pickleball enthusiasts. She is the primary owner and operator and is dedicated to the cause. John continues to support Karen in financing and designing the apparel line. 

Here is the LinkedIn profile of both John and Karen to learn more about their respective careers, and visit www.dink.pro to find incredible pickleball apparel.