I’ve never considered myself an athlete. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s most cool girls did not “do” sports. It would never have dawned on me to ask my father, who was an avid golfer, if he would teach me how to play and I’m just as sure it never occurred to him either. If he ever gave a thought to playing golf with his children, I think, first and foremost, his two sons would have come to mind. That being said, I would have agreed with him because “cool” girls didn’t “do” sports.
Fast forward 50 or so years. I am constantly shaking my head because I really don’t know whom I’ve become. I am addicted to the golf bug playing at least two times a week during the golf season and as of two months ago I’ve started playing Pickleball. If you’ve never heard of Pickleball, I’m not surprised. It’s only been a few short months, basically since I’ve retired, that I myself have seen Pickleball in action.
Just to give you some history regarding this sport……….
Although, as of 2017 Pickleball is now the fastest growing sport in North America, it’s been around since 1965 when it was conceived by three friends, Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum and Bob O’Brian on Bainbridge Island, Washington who, on a rainy afternoon, were trying to come up with something fun to do with their families. The concept they discovered, although nameless at first, was Pickleball, a blend of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong and played on a court one-third the size of a tennis court. The playing equipment consists of a lightweight paddle and a Wiffle type ball.
By 1990 Pickleball was being played in all 50 states and currently the USAPA, the official Pickleball Association, whose mission is to perpetuate the growth and advancement of Pickleball on a national basis, has listed over 4,000 locations on their places to play map.
With the rising popularity of the sport, Pickleball lessons are offered by many adult education programs in various school districts, town parks and community centers. The baby boomer set, of which I belong, accounts for 75% of all Pickleballers although the appeal among the intergenerational group is fast growing once the allure of the game is discovered.
It’s hard to convey the sense of community, camaraderie, exercise, socialization, and personal fulfillment Pickleball provides. The fast pace of the game, it takes eleven points to win, allows multiple matches of doubles to rotate in and out every 20 to 30 minutes during a two to three-hour time span.
I took my first set of lessons, offered by the Town of Hempstead, in June, followed up with a second set of lessons in early July. Both groups consisted of amazing people who were such fun to play with. Following the June lessons, two attendees stepped up right away to coordinate Pickleball play at two local parks which enables us to play 4 days a week if desired. Needless to say, most of us are playing 4 days a week! I must add, that the unpaid USAPA Ambassador, Jones Wong, and his wife Linda, are phenomenal teachers and representatives of the sport. Their enthusiasm and love of the game is infectious. There are USAPA Ambassadors all over the country; if interested the USAPA website provides a plethora of information for Pickleballers of all skill levels.
Pickleball, the fastest growing sport in America, is definitely addictive, spontaneous and most of all fun. Who knew, a sport with the crazy name of Pickleball would be such a blast!