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Friday, December 22, 2017

The New "It" Sport

Pickleball: an addiction you'll never want to stop...

Here is yet another good article about the addictive nature of pickleball. Below are excerpts from the article, the entirety of which can be found at 417 Magazine.

The number of places to play pickleball has doubled since 2010. Digital Director Dayle Duggins (aka Dill Duggins) loves pickles, so we sent her to try out the sport with a funny name.

Pickleball is poppin’. I open Snapchat and see friends playing—beer in hand—at bars that are built entirely around the sport. Others are playing with their grandparents while on vacation. Local country clubs are hopping aboard, too. When I realized that it was trending, I knew I had to try the sport. I had high hopes: pickles are pretty much my favorite food, grandmas can play the sport and, if I found the right venue, I could even get a little tipsy while exercising.

I called up my pal and former co-worker Dylan Whitaker, who had very aggressively picked up the sport as a hobby. I needed the scoop. Who plays pickleball? Where do people play? Who’s the best? I needed him to tell me everything, and he delivered. Dylan told me that RaNay Riffe was a pickleball star who would probably be tickled to show me the ropes. Quickly, I got in touch with her, and next thing I knew, I was scheduled to play pickleball with her for a few hours on a Friday morning. 


Upon researching the sport, I was saddened to learn that pickleball incorporates zero pickles. But relief swept over me when I found that the oddly named sport might have been inspired by a cocker spaniel named Pickles. What a great name. I already loved the game...


When I got to the Republic Community Center, it was easy to spot Riffe. She was adorably dressed and bounced right over to greet me. We introduced ourselves, she handed me a paddle and we hit the court. Our first opponents were two gentlemen who gave us a run for our money. 

As we hit the ball, Riffe explained the game. During live play, I learned all about the kitchen, dinking, how to give a pickleball high-five and how serving works, which I really struggled to understand at first. Play was much faster and less leisurely than I expected because we played close to the net. We lost our first game, but I was pretty impressed with myself. I was smashing the ball over the net, diving to make returns and making pretty good serves. Riffe threw me in with the sharks. Her style of play is very aggressive and fast-paced, and I was loving every minute of it.

As we continued to play match after match, we won the majority of the games, and I was surprisingly breaking a sweat. Most of the people we played were older than us, but their skill level always surprised me. “It’s a fun sport because you can’t judge anybody by what they look like,” Riffe says. It’s true, but Riffe is an exception. If you look at her, you can tell she’s in shape. “It gives me the same cardio burn without running, which is huge.” Because Riffe plays two to three times a week for two to four hours, it’s her primary workout.


Three hours on the pickleball court flew by. I was sweaty and had finally figured out the serving rules, so I didn’t want to leave. The volleys were intense and required quick reflexes, but I got the hang of it quickly.

All of the pickleball players were very welcoming. They knew I was a newbie, so they went out of their way to make me feel welcome, give me a hard time every once in awhile and compliment me on successful serves, dinks and smashes.

I’m looking forward to picking up the paddle again during the colder months. I think I might just bring along my own pickles. 

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