Retired Commander of the U.S. Navy Teaches Pickleball to Boost Veterans’ Self Esteem

Steven Harper, the Executive Director of Military Adaptive Court Sports (MACS), is also a retired Lt. Cmdr of the US NAVY who began learning to play racquetball while on active duty, ironically assigned to a nuclear-powered ballistic submarine in Kings Bay, GA back in 2004.  He truly found his calling later when he was stationed in San Diego, practicing racquetball at the gym at Balboa Hospital, when he saw a Marine with an amputated leg walking up the stairs away from the gym, and the Calling came to him – “Go teach that Marine how to play racquetball…!!”  The rest is history!  He founded Military Racquetball Federation (MRF), which is now renamed Military Adaptive Court Sports (MACS) on the crazy notion of actually setting up a portable outdoor racquetball court onboard the aircraft carrier (USS BONHOMME RICHARD) stationed in San Diego.  He has traveled across the country for the past 12 years teaching wounded active-duty service members and disabled veterans the sport of racquetball as a form of rehabilitation.

Three years ago he found a new passion of teaching Pickleball to veterans and wounded warriors around the country.  He was able to secure federal funding by writing and being awarded a one-year grant by the Department of Veterans Affairs, to promote and teach the sport of pickleball at various VA Medical Centers.  In fact, through this grant funding, Lt. Cmdr Harper was able to travel and teach pickleball to ten VA Medical Centers and three military bases, which included:  Fort Hood, Walter Reed, and Fort Belvoir – impacting over 1,500 wounded service members and disabled veterans through his efforts.  The success of his program is partly a result of his work with local, district and regional Pickleball Ambassadors who help find certified instructors to assist in the teaching process.  His pickleball program consists of teaching a 6-week course in which at the conclusion of the program, there is a graduation ceremony to where veterans/participants receive their own pickleball paddle sponsored by HEAD Pickleball.  He has mastered his skills through teaching and playing pickleball from a wheelchair.  He is currently working with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ambassador (Ms. Sharon MacKenzie) to develop a training video teaching how to play pickleball from a wheelchair position.  Steven is using this unique outreach opportunity by showcasing pickleball as a therapeutic tool to reach veterans who have suffered from combat such as; P.T.S.D. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries) patients, those suffering from substance/alcohol abuse, veterans who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless, and even some veterans/service members contemplating suicide.  Lt. Cmdr Steven Harper wants to impact those who have suffered from the effects of combat through his vision of using adaptive sports (pickleball and racquetball) to help Disabled Veterans and Wounded Warriors regain their confidence, self-esteem, and outlook on life.  He needs your help to spread this mission….  For more information, you can reach him at: or website:

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