News from the Region

South Carolina


Summer 2018

Pickleball Gives People a New Sport to Try in Aiken, SC

The local television news in North Augusta, SC, had a segment about pickleball on April 30, 2018. Jessica Eley from WRDW News 12 (CBS) interviewed players at H. Odell Weeks Recreation Center in Aiken, SC. Vicki McNair and Joyce Noland gave interviews. Mark Tatusko and Steve Miner were shown playing in background footage.

With summer just around the corner, we’re all looking for new things to do, new sports to try. Well, here’s one that might just fit the bill Pickleball, the sport with the funny name, and it’s pretty popular on the courts at the Odell Weeks Center in Aiken.

“I think I started to get myself back in competition and exercise.” Vicki McNair said.

It’s a paddle sport that kind of looks like a cross between table tennis and badminton, but there are still some differences.

“It’s really unique. It’s really its own sport. You have to play to learn the skills, no matter what you’re coming from. You have to learn the pickleball skills. I think a lot of tennis players are more comfortable at the base line. In pickelball, you have to get to the net to be competitive,” Joyce Noland said.

Pickle ball isn’t just a recreational sport.. This group takes it pretty seriously, practicing regularly and competing in tournaments at the 4.0 and up levels.

“It’s a hard sport. It’s clearly something you have to be in good shape and work at it.” Vicki McNair said.

“Extremely fast, the reactions, the court speed. It takes a lot of endurance,” Joyce Noland said.

These former collegiate athlete’s playing days may be long gone, but playing pickle ball fills that competitive itch.

Intergenerational Pickleball – Will it Work?

I recently had an opportunity to become involved as a director for a group of five candidates for a master’s degree at USC, Columbia , SC. This was an exciting project that I eagerly took on hoping to spread the word of Pickleball. Their project had to do with answering the question, “can intergenerational pickleball exist in the community.”

Now we all know that that’s a resounding “yes “! However, through this groups’ research, surveys and interviews they found some interesting answers. Three obstacles stood out that make intergenerational pickleball almost impossible, especially between the elderly and college-aged students. In the pickleball arena we have found some ways to overcome these obstacles on a limited basis, but I have to agree with their findings.

EDUCATION. They believe the biggest obstacle is education. Less than half of the college students ever heard of pickleball or showed interest in playing with seniors, however 92% of the seniors showed interest in playing with younger players. Perhaps this has something to do with experience and knowledge. Pickleball is a strategy game where thinking can overpower the physical aspects of pickleball. I believe there is still a long way to go to educate the public on what Pickleball is, it’s benefits and convincing people of their ability to play. The other aspect of education is attitude. There is still a generation gap in the community and a general stigmatization towards older people. Perhaps this is where the professional social worker comes in. They need to go out in the world and try to address this problem. I believe this group will do that.

TIME. College students generally go to class in the morning and the afternoon. Their free time is not only precious to them, but is limited to late afternoons, evenings and weekends, whereas the elderly tend to have so much more free time and also prefer playing in the morning and early afternoon. They generally do not want to drive at night or on the weekend when they’re caring for family and homes or have difficulty with night driving. This creates a real problem in getting them all together at one time.

TRAVEL. Most college students do not have cars, nor the money to join a pickleball venue. The courts that are free are few and far between. As ambassadors, we may be able to change this by recruiting more venues and getting them to lower costs for students and the elderly. Costs are a major issue for venues. Anything on campus would not include anyone from the community. The elderly are less likely to drive far distances, at night or on the weekends. Almost unanimously, they would not do this.

At this point, I do not see a large contingent of inter-generational pickleball play. That doesn’t mean they can’t, but more likely they would not.

What do you say Pickleball community? Do you agree or disagree with this groups’ research results?

Hayley Cannon, Chelsea Lane, Allie Moore, Riley Plenge and Kristina Topp
Submitted by Elinor Fibel, Columbia SC

Crooked Creek Park Hosts Pickleball Event

Crooked Creek Park hosted a Pickleball event in Chapin, SC. Special thanks to Paddletek and Skyray products for providing paddles for participants. PickleballCentral.com provided backpack giveaways and a discount code for the club to use.

There were approximately 30 participants ranging in age from 8 to 64. Participants learned the basics of Pickleball including the origin of the game, rules, and strategies. The event helped participants grow their Pickleball skills. Many said they were hooked on THE FASTEST GROWING SPORT in our area and the country. A Pickleball basics class is planned once a month.
Big thanks to all who helped to make the event a success.

Jason Galloway
Ambassador
Lexington County, SC