S6E7 (episode #57): Roger BelAir on how pickleball is changing prisoners’ lives
In this episode, Roger and Jeffrey discuss Roger’s career through banking, motivational speaking, and writing financial books–and how that took him to bringing Pickleball to prisons
Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/3eXBvHynYM0
Host: Jeffrey M. Zucker
Producer: Kait Grey
Editor: Nick Case
Recording date: 4/26/23
A Pickleball Background Like No Other!
Years ago Roger BelAir was introduced to to Barney McCallum, the only living founder. They quickly became friends and many of the anecdotes and vignettes Roger shares about the game come directly from Barney. Next Roger came to know the managment of Pickle-Ball, Inc., the company formed by the three founders to promote the game. He learned even more “behind the scenes” stories.
As a result, Roger’s clinics are uncopyable! With a style that mixes humor, insights, and proper technique, Roger has taught 2,500+ people … from a former Wimbledon tennis pro to Fortune 500 executives to grandmothers who want to stay active and have fun. He is frequently the Guest Teaching Pro at the renowned Rancho La Puerta (one of the “Five Best Destination Spas in the World” according to Travel + Leisure magazine). He has also taught at the JW Marriott Palm Desert, one of the top ten tennis resorts in the country.
Inspired by a CBS’s “60 Minutes” segment on crime, Roger envisioned pickleball as a means of teaching “life skills” in prisons. Since most inmates are eventually released, perhaps pickleball could help make them better people … making it safer for all of us once they return to society.
His thinking was correct. He introduced the game to men charged with murder at Chicago’s Cook County Jail and his program was hugely successful. Gang members who wouldn’t even talk to each other were playing pickleball together. Soon they were even laughing together! Disciplinary problems at the jail were reduced.
The success of his program in Chicago led Roger to prisons coast-to-coast, from Rikers Island in New York to Corcoran in California (where Charles Manson served time). His life-changing efforts have been applauded by NPR, ESPN, and a front-page story in USA TODAY. Even a popular radio station in Dubai found his story newsworthy!
Off the court, Roger is a financial expert who has been profiled in a cover story of Money magazine; an acclaimed author of books on finance and investments; and a keynoter at business conventions around the country. He’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and many other publications.
He knows finance, but pickleball is his passion.