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Wil Shaffer’s Journey: From Gymnast to Rising Star in Pickleball

Wil Shaffer’s Journey: At just 15 years old, Wil Shaffer has already made significant waves in the world of sports. From gymnastics to reality TV and now pickleball, Wil’s journey reflects a young athlete with boundless potential and a passion for competition.

Early Beginnings and Transition to Pickleball

Wil’s introduction to pickleball came during the pandemic, a time when many sought new ways to stay active. What began as a family activity on their backyard pavement quickly turned into a serious pursuit for Wil. Despite a background in gymnastics where he clinched three state championships, Wil found himself drawn more to the camaraderie in Arizona and competitive thrill of pickleball.

“I was a gymnast for 10 years, which was a big part of my life. So I was still really taking it seriously,” Wil shared. “But once I started taking pickleball more seriously, I had to kind of decide between gymnastics or pickleball.”

“If I’m going to do something, I’m going to give it 100 percent. So, I eventually decided on pickleball.”–shaffer

Arizona Pickleball Scene and Community Influence

Based in Arizona, Wil immersed himself in one of the sport’s hotbeds, where top-level players gather for intense matches and training sessions. Playing alongside seasoned pros and emerging talents, Wil quickly rose through the ranks, gaining respect and honing his skills on the court.

The Arizona pickleball community is just so big and so tight-knit that after a year or two in it, especially as a 12-year-old that’s social, I knew pretty much everyone,” Wil explained. “ I was maybe like a 4.0, and a lot of the people had to try to take it easy on me.

“We have a lot of really good players here. There are five 5.0-plus pickleball kids that are just here in Arizona that we can train with, and there are probably more.”–shaffer


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Aspirations in Pickleball

With aspirations to turn pro, Wil has set his sights on competing in pro qualifiers, aiming to secure spots in main draws and elevate his game even further. Balancing school and his passion for pickleball, Wil sees a potential career in the sport, whether as a player or through avenues like commentary and social media content creation.

I think pro qualifiers is definitely where I need to start making moves because I think I’m good enough to make a main draw, especially if I get a good draw,” Wil noted. “I think I could definitely make a career out of it right now. It’s just I’m focused on school and just still being a kid. But, pickleball is definitely a future career option.

“I think if I don’t play pro, I could commentate. I could do social media content. There are a lot of options in pickleball because it’s just such a growing sport.”–shaffer


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Beyond Pickleball: All-Around Champion

Wil’s journey extended beyond pickleball when he appeared on BYU TV’s “All-Around Champion,” showcasing his athleticism and adaptability in a variety of sports. The experience not only broadened his skills but also introduced him to new friends and invaluable life lessons.

So, it’s basically where different athletes compete in each other’s sports. One week, as the pickleball athlete, I would coach pickleball, and the other 10 weeks, I would learn everyone else’s sport. And then at the end of each week, I’d compete in each sport, and there would be points involved, and at the end, there’s a winner.

“That was the best experience in my life. I made the best friends of my life, and I got three times more athletic from it.”


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Support from Family and Future Outlook

Supported by his family, who are avid pickleball players themselves, Wil appreciates their encouragement and involvement in his athletic pursuits. Whether coaching clinics or competing, Wil’s family plays a pivotal role in his journey. “My parents are very supportive of what I choose to do. They were like, ‘If you’re a gymnast, we’re gonna support you in it, but if you ever want to quit, we support you in that too,’ and then when I kind of decided to switch to pickleball, it was definitely a hard decision.

“I think it’s good that they played pickleball, too, and they were serious about it before me.”–shaffer

Looking ahead, Wil remains humble about his potential impact on the sport but is driven to excel and contribute to pickleball’s growing popularity and competitiveness.

“Pickleball has such a bright future, and I do my best to train hard to try to be a part of it!  Let’s go!!!”–shaffer

As Wil Shaffer continues to hone his skills and pursue his dreams in pickleball, his journey serves as a testament to dedication and youthful ambition in sports. With each match and milestone, Wil exemplifies the spirit of a rising star poised to leave a lasting impression on the pickleball world.

Stay tuned as Wil Shaffer continues to make waves in the sport, and we will keep you updated on his journey toward becoming a formidable force in pickleball.

News in Brief: Wil Shaffer’s Journey

Will Shaffer, at just 15 years old, has swiftly transitioned from gymnastics to becoming a rising star in pickleball. His journey began during the pandemic when he quickly embraced the sport’s competitive edge and camaraderie in Arizona’s vibrant pickleball community. Balancing school and training, Wil aims to turn pro, eyeing spots in main draws and potential careers in pickleball commentary and social media.

Featured on BYU TV’s ‘All-Around Champion,’ Wil showcased his athleticism across various sports, cementing his versatility and determination. With unwavering support from his family, who are avid pickleball enthusiasts themselves, Wil is poised to make a significant impact on the sport’s future. His story embodies youthful ambition and dedication, promising to elevate pickleball’s popularity and competitiveness as he continues to excel on and off the court.

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