Pickleball is Popular for All Ages
One of the fastest growing sports in America involves a court and a net. It’s not tennis or badminton, it’s pickleball.
The sport has had a 650% increase in participants during the past six years, according to the USA Pickleball Association. In Cherokee County, a number of neighborhood and private groups enjoy participating in this fast-growing sport.
There is one very special player who is part of the Kenny Askew Park group that plays in the gym at the Malon D. Mimms Boys and Girls Club. She proves that it’s never too late to try. Edna Knox is an active 92-year-old who frequently joins the group at 9:45 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to enjoy some friendly competition.
Originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Edna played tennis before giving pickleball a try. She is quite effective at placing the ball in her opponent’s court, just outside their reach, a skill that takes patience and finesse.
One of the challenges of pickleball is learning the scoring. Each serve must begin with calling the score in a particular way: by announcing the serving team’s score, the opposing team’s score and whether you’re the first or second server. Edna is often the one reminding the other three players of the accurate score and server.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. Three dads, whose kids were bored with the usual summertime activities, created the game. According to one of the founders, Barney McCallum, one of the three dads had a family dog named Pickles, who would chase the ball and run off with it. Thus, the name pickleball. Through the past five decades, equipment has improved dramatically from the early wooden paddles and whiffle balls used by the initial players of the sport.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get active and lose weight, visit the Cherokee County Georgia Pickleball Circles Facebook page, where you will find a list of groups, with locations and times. We are fortunate to have three local pickleball ambassadors, Chip Hullender, Sarah O’Brien and Carole Hess, who stay busy teaching clinics and organizing tournaments. You can email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chip at email@example.com for further information. They will make every effort to connect you with the group closest to you.
– Nathan, a resident of Cherokee County since 1982. He retired from Cherokee County Senior Services, and remains involved in community organizations that focus on senior adults.