As a child, sports gave me an outlet to leave the mundane existence which was my life. For most kids from a small community, competitive sports are over after high school. I filled the void with fantasy sports or slow-pitch softball, but it was not the same level of energy.
Pickleball fell into my life around 2012. Bobby Short came by our local YMCA and introduced me to this thrilling sport. Short taught our directors. We added pickleball to our programs. Besides the competitive boost, pickleball taught me how to work with a partner in achieving a common goal.
Why does this game of a paddle and net attract so many people, including myself? I was familiar with ping-pong. Just about everyone who grew up in the seventies had a ping-pong table. I knew of tennis. John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were childhood heroes of mine.
But pickleball? What’s the allure?
From the backyard of Joel Pritchard in 1965 to countless courts across the world, pickleball has become a phenomenon. Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell made a game for everyone, regardless of age, gender, or ability.
According to the Sports & Fitness Association, pickleball grew by 159% over the last three years to over 8.9 million playing in the United States alone. As of the end of 2022, there were 11,000 places to play pickleball, with an increase of around 130 new locations each month. USA Pickleball membership had reached over 70,000 as of February 2023.
Danville is on board with pickleball. There’s rarely a time when a group is not playing somewhere. The Danville Family YMCA offers several days of play with a membership. Parks & Recreation offers times and locations. The Danville Pickleball Group has a strong following and plays almost every day.
The players in Danville make the game special. They are there to compete but also to teach. Bringing the community together one match at a time. From the crack of the ball hitting the paddle to tapping paddles at the end, saying, “Good Game.” Sportsmanship abounds. Whether you are 12, 80, or starting out at 42, honesty and fair play lead the way.
I will always remember the first paddle I purchased ten years ago. The feel of going out and playing that first game. I felt like a magician sometimes having to say, “Abracadabra” just to get the ball over the net, but I never quit and continue to get better. To hear the “pop” of the ball, to feel the wind in my hair, and the sun in my eyes is something I’m thankful for every time I step onto the court.
So, I leave you with this: Some people say, “Why Pickleball?” I say, “Why not Pickleball?”