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Dick Johnson: Heart and Service on the Court

Dick Johnson at the SSIPA World Championship
Dick Johnson at the SSIPA World Championship

Age and adversity haven’t stopped Dick Johnson (1962). A dedicated pickleball player for a decade, and a seasoned tennis player for six, this Boise Junior College accounting alum has a passionate heart for athletics and achievement, committed to honoring his sport and contributing to his community. Even as he begins to consider retiring from competition, Johnson remains adamant about the importance of sports.

“You give your heart out on the court,” Johnson said. “You’ve learned to give everything you can on the court, and that helps you throughout your whole life, because you’re going to have problems throughout your whole life in different ways.”

Over the years, Johnson’s athletic career has remained on the up and up. Since the age of 14, he has been a state champion in tennis in every decade, and his shorter stint playing pickleball has been even more successful. Along with 250 medals in pickleball under his belt, he has also achieved a unique Grand Slam, winning gold medals in the same year in all six major tournaments of the sport, and in 2018, he became the first pickleball player and the first and only Idahoan to receive the Personal Best Award in 30 years and 25 sports by the National Senior Games Association.

Johnson at the 2022 Hall of Fame Ceremony
Johnson at the 2022 Hall of Fame Ceremony

However, Johnson is also proud of his latest achievement: being inducted into the 2022 Huntsman World Senior Games’ Hall of Fame. Johnson was chosen from around 230,000 athletes from 86 countries who have competed in 35 different sports in the past 35 years.

Having endured numerous procedures from knee surgeries to back fusion surgery, winning golds through stitches and concussions, Johnson is grateful to be alive and able to play, all while remaining healthy. In looking to retirement, Johnson remains committed to his passions for teaching pickleball, although perhaps non-competitively, as well as providing service, like his formerly being President of the large Boise Racquet & Swim Club, Vice President of the Idaho Youth Tennis Foundation, and on the first planning committee of the new Hobble Creek Pickleball Complex.

“For me, it’s been a great way to serve and compete athletically with the best in the world, and become the best in the world,” Johnson said. “As I ride into the sunset in my older years, and after my devotion to God, my family and friends, and the blessings of America, those are the kinds of things I’ll look back on with the greatest happiness.”

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Lily Tindle-Hardy

Lily Tindle-Hardy is a student communications specialist/writer within University Advancement. Lily is a junior studying English, and she recently transferred to Boise State after earning an associate of arts from Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore. She assists the UA Comms team with writing projects, including donor stories, and capturing the student’s “voice” in impact features.