2019 PHOF Inductee

Daniel Gabanek

Competitor

Daniel Gabanek

CITIZENSHIP: USA

BORN: November 8, 1963 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia

PLAYS: Right-handed

EDUCATION:

  • Franklin High School, Queen Anne High School, Seattle, Washington
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • Associate in Arts Degree, Edmonds Community College, Edmonds, Washington

RECOGNITION:

Dan was recognized for his dominance in pickleball from 1988 to 2014. During this period, he was ranked #1 nationally in Men’s Open Singles, earning 21 gold medals. He was ranked #1 in Men’s Open Doubles, winning close to 60 gold medals. His record also includes over 13 Open Mixed Doubles titles. He is also a four-time National Champion and five-time runner-up.

Background

Dan does not remember much of Bratislava, where he was born. The Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 when Dan was four. Shortly after, Dan’s father made the decision to move his family to the United States. After several months, they arrived in Seattle, Washington.

Dan attended Seattle public schools. He played kickball and dodgeball in elementary school. In 1974, he became a U.S. citizen. He played a lot of golf during his early teens. It was during this time, from 1976 to 1978, that Dan learned to play pickleball in PE classes at McClure Junior High School. He played on the Queen Anne High School tennis team during his sophomore and junior years. However, Queen Anne closed, and he transferred to Franklin High School for his senior year, where he continued to play on their tennis team. Other sports he enjoyed were ping pong, billiards, and basketball. In high school, Dan participated in a free throw competition and fundraiser against Ted St. Martin, the Guinness World Record holder for most consecutive free throws. At the time, Ted’s record was 499. The competition was to see who could do the best in 10 free throws. Ted missed on his 7th attempt, while Dan made all ten of his, earning him a brand-new basketball.

Dan began playing in pickleball tournaments in January 1986 at an event organized by Sid Williams. With persistence, Dan worked his way to the top of the U.S.A.P.A. Nation Wide Rating and Ranking System in Men’s Open Singles and Men’s Open Doubles. One page of this 1992 quarterly report shows Dan in the #1 position in both categories.

Dan also developed a reputation for being able to consume large quantities of hotdogs at tournaments while still maintaining his competitive edge on the courts. His record was 12 hotdogs in one day.

When not driving a forklift at his warehousing job, Dan enjoys driving his 1963 Lincoln Continental (on sunny days) and collecting cars of all sizes. He currently has about 160 in his collection of 1/18 scale models. His love of cars takes him to classic car auctions all around the country.

2009 USAPA Nationals 35+ Men’s Doubles
L-R Brett Raymond / Tim Hatzenbeler, Dan Gabanek / Don Paschal, Dominick Greco III / Joseph Greco

Billy Jacobsen and Dan Gabanek – Pacific Northwest Open – June 2, 1991

COMPETITION AND AWARDS RECOGNITION:

International Indoor Pickleball Championships

  • 2017 Open Senior Men’s Doubles – Silver with Rob Thal

USAPA Nationals:

2009

  • 35+ Men’s Doubles – Gold with Don Paschal

2010

  • Open Men’s Doubles – Silver with Billy Jacobsen
  • 35+ Men’s Doubles – Gold with Don Paschal

2011

  • 35+ Men’s Doubles – Silver with Don Paschal
  • Open Men’s Doubles – Gold with Billy Jacobsen

    USAPA Nationals:

    2012

    • 35+ Men’s Doubles – Bronze with Yoda Friedenberg
    • 35+ Mixed Doubles – Silver with Heidi Hancock

    2014

    • 50+ Men’s Doubles – Silver with Yoda Friedenberg
    • 50+ Mixed Doubles – Gold with Luba Zhekhovskaya

    2015

    • 50+ Mixed Doubles Doubles – Silver with Luba Zhekhovskaya