Have you ever considered inventing something? How about a new sport?
That’s exactly what happened in 1965 when 3 friends were stuck with bored children on a school vacation. The fathers took ping pong paddles and a wiffleball and lowered a volleyball net to create a new game, Pickleball.
Pickleball’s odd name comes from rowing, where a “pickle boat” is made of rowers of various abilities and skill levels. Pickleball is booming across the nation, as evidenced by the fact that it was all I heard about from my clients during the pandemic. And in fact, the Park Ridge Pickleball Club (PRPC) membership has grown by more than 50% in the past year. At one point 10% of members were named Bob, which resulted in each being graced with a unique nickname, adding to the overall fun and camaraderie.
While Pickleball is often thought of as a sport for seniors, it has become a sport for all ages. Indeed, the top professional (yes…professional!) female player in the world today is 15-year-old Anna Leigh Waters. It is taught in at least two Park Ridge elementary schools, Field and Carpenter, and there is a Pickleball club at Maine South with 100 student members (Despite no Pickleball courts at the school!). PRPC has members ranging from 30 to 84 years old.
“Pickleball is likely the first widely-played new sport developed since basketball in the 1890s,” said Bob Rhine, president of the PRPC. It has quickly picked up popularity, in part because it is known to be a “joyous” sport. If Pickleball keeps growing as it has been, “it will likely be more popular than tennis in the next few years,” adds Bob.
Several tennis clubs added it only to have the tennis players complain about all the laughing that was coming from the Pickleball courts. Pickleball is a very social activity. The Park Ridge club has an end-of-year holiday luncheon, an annual golf outing, regular lunches at local restaurants, and a fun Pickleball tournament (The Tom-Tom) for a charity, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The tournament gets its name from Tom Dohr and Tom Gawne, two long-time Park Ridge residents, who started it. Their sixth Tom-Tom was held this year and raised over $1,400 for NAMI.
Ready to give it a try? Free Introduction to Pickleball (AKA PB101) classes are offered once a month. The latest classes have been scheduled in the evenings and weekends to allow 9-to-5-ers to learn the game. To learn more: check out the Park Ridge Pickleball Club on Facebook, or contact the PRPC president, Bob Rhine, at [email protected].