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I'm in a Pickle



Scripture:

1 Timothy 4:8, New King James Version (NKJV): “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

“We have a beautiful clubhouse with a pool and sauna and two pickleball courts that get used every morning,” said the tour guide to the Luxury Motorcoach RV resort. “No golf, no tennis, but we do have pickleball!” She excitedly proclaimed to the soon-to-be resident. “I have heard of it,” stated the one being guided, “but I have not yet played.” “Don’t worry; I’m sure someone will teach you.” “It’s easy to learn.” “I’m sure you will love it!” The guide more excitedly proclaimed. “I guess I’m old enough now to start playing pickleball,” thought the soon-to-be resident to herself. I never thought I’d be playing pickleball in a motorcoach RV resort, but boy, did we have fun. With only one group lesson and just a paddle and pickleball, I was up early in the morning and meeting at the courts to play. When the tournaments started, I was not asked to join. “I guess I need some lessons,” I thought; these people were serious about their pickleball!

Fast forward, I am now living in Naples, FL, and taking lessons every other day to learn how to play the game of pickleball better. “When you get a little better, you can join us for ‘dinks and drinks,’” said my young instructor. I hit the ball over every time, but am I still not good enough to play with others?” I thought to myself. “Perhaps he needs to teach me a few more lessons at $65 an hour,” I wondered. I thought Pickleball was supposed to be fun and easy. I feel like I am In a Pickle when it comes to pickleball. I think I will wait and play with the newbies when they come down in the winter. I wonder what the founders of the game wanted it to be like. So, being the history major that I am, I began my research.

First, I read that in 1965,

After playing golf one Saturday during the summer, Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and Bill Bell, successful businessman, returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA (near Seattle) to find their families sitting around with nothing to do. The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. At first, they placed the net at a badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net. As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface, and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches. The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.[1]


Then I read some fun facts about the game of pickleball.

· 1967- The first permanent pickleball court was constructed in the backyard of Joel Pritchard’s friend and neighbor, Bob O’Brian.

· 1984- The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was organized to perpetuate the growth and advancement of pickleball on a national level. The first rulebook was published in March 1984.

· By 1990-Pickleball was being played in all 50 states.

· In 1997-Joel Pritchard passed away at age 72. Though he was Washington State’s Lieutenant governor from 1988 to 1996, he is probably better known for his connection to the birth of pickleball.

· The game of pickleball was introduced for the first time in the Arizona Senior Olympics through the efforts of Earl Hill. The tournament was played at Happy Trails RV Resort in Surprise, AZ, and drew 100 players. It was the largest event ever played to that point. Over the next few years, the event grew to nearly 300 players.

Perhaps that is why the RV resort has pickleball instead of tennis.

· The first USAPA National Tournament for players of all ages was held in Buckeye, Arizona, November 2-8, 2009. The tournament drew almost 400 players from 26 states and several Canadian provinces.

Maybe it is not just for the 55 and older; interesting.

· To help foster the sport's growth on an international level, USAPA established the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) organization and corresponding website (ifpickleball.org).

· In 1993-The last of the three originating founders of the sport, Barney McCallum passed away at 93.[2]

Then, I watched a video of the founders. Please watch:


However, what about pickleball today? Who is playing pickleball? It was originally meant to be a family fun game that everyone could play, but then it took off with the 55 and older crowd dominating the sport. But now?

USA Pickleball membership numbers reached the 70,000 mark in February of 2023, after a nearly 30 percent increase in membership growth in 2022. In its 2023 Topline Participation Report, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) named pickleball the fastest-growing sport in America for the third year in a row. According to the report, pickleball is now up to a total of 8.9 million players in the United States over the age of six years old, an increase from 4.8 million in 2022. In March, USA Pickleball and the Professional Pickleball Association announced that the 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships, presented by the PPA Tour, will be held in Dallas this November.


So, pickleball is a national phenomenon, but will my children ever play it with me as originally designed? Will pickleball be a sport my whole family can play? Will my adult children ever think pickleball is for them? Please watch:




If you watch these videos, you will realize that my children, 3 of whom now live in Charlotte, will want me to teach them how to play the game of Pickleball or pay the pro to give them a lesson. Well, at least I have something to buy my children for Christmas: Pickleball paddles and balls.

Perhaps churches will use pickleball to get people together instead of just bars. If a church were to host a pickleball party, it would probably get some unchurched people to come, and relationships could be formed.

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Please help us to use pickleball for your glory. Thank you for a fun family sport that people of all ages can enjoy. Amen




[1] “The History of Pickleball,” US Pickleball.org, accessed September 21, 2023, https://usapickleball.org/what-is-pickleball/history-of-the-game/ [2] Ibid.





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