EmpowHer group photo of about 40 women in matching hot pink shirts.
EmpowHer pickleball retreats group photo. KaSandra Gehrke

EmpowHer: Pickleball retreats for women

DALLAS, TX – In conjunction with Women's History Month, I recently spoke with KaSandra Gehrke, a pro pickleball player turned entrepreneur, who created EmpowHer, a women’s-only pickleball retreat that has me searching for a one-way ticket to Turks and Caicos with no definitive return date on the horizon.

“I went on a Pickleball Getaways trip with Ben Johns and Dekel Bar and I had a blast. I wanted to create something that was the same, but different,” shared Gehrke. “I thought about a women’s-only event because there was nothing like that anywhere, so I came up with the idea of EmpowHer, a pickleball camp just for women.”

Gehrke spoke about the benefits of an experience dedicated exclusively to female pickleball players.

“I think what’s so special about the pickleball space is that a lot of people come in and have never played a sport in their life before, but when you get on the court and you’re against this guy who’s hitting the ball as hard as he can at you, you’re annoyed because he’s not being fair. Now, you don’t even want to be on the court anymore because it’s bringing you anxiety,” noted Gehrke. “Creating a space for women to be able to go and learn and feel safer in that learning environment has been really special.”

That learning environment plays an integral part in EmpowHer's success. 

KaSandra Gehrke pumping her fist in celebration
KaSandra Gehrke EmpowHer pickleball retreats

“For women in general, we’re really hard on ourselves, and having events like this to hype each other up and smack ourselves out of our own head, that’s when you see change. It’s just empowering and a great way to get some girl time,” said Gehrke.

On a typical day, the first two hours of the retreat feature skills and drills from Gehrke and the other coaches. Then, there's free time to hit the beach, enjoy an excursion, and relax off from the court. 

In the afternoon, they have open play to put some of their new skills to the test, and at night, there's a group activity for participants to interact and build relationships. 

“A big goal of ours is that we want you to leave as stronger women, and we’re teaching how to empower each other through pickleball,” explained Gehrke.

That being said, pickleball is a competitive game. There’s a winner and loser. So, how does Gehrke balance that competitive element with empowering players, too?

“You have to set the mindset early. There is always something you can do to be successful on court and have a good time,” insisted Gehrke. “Let’s say you’re a higher-level player and you’re playing with lower-level players. Instead of having the mindset like - ‘Oh geez, I’m stuck with these guys again’ - think about what you can work on. If you need to work on your resets, this is the time to do it. Have the mindset that it doesn’t matter if I win or lose because I’m going to work on my skills, instead of pouting and making myself miserable.”

KaSandra Gehrke squating low to return a pickleball
KaSandra Gehrke playing pickleball. KaSandra Gehrke

Gehrke continued to expand on the subject.

“Remember where you started. Give your time back like the people gave you when you were learning, too. It’s all about mindset, how you want to look at it, and teaching that good mindset to other higher-level players,” she explained. “Watching the end result of the camps and retreats and seeing where everybody started to how happy and evolved they are, it’s so rewarding. The community develops so quickly. It’s amazing to see the difference in camaraderie and how people can become like family. That’s 100% why I do this.”

With trips to Turks and Caicos and Cancun this year, EmpowHer continues to grow and leave a lasting impact on paricipants.

To secure your spot on a retreat, click here.