Beach to Bayou - June 2021
- by Wendy Sullivan
Like the new hybrid cars, pickleball is a fusion of several sports. It is gaining popularity, especially here on the Gulf Coast. Despite its name, no pickles are harmed or involved in this game.
This game uses elements of badminton, ping-pong and tennis. Like tennis, players purchase their own paddles. Coaches provide the balls and maintain the courts and nets.
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The Pickleball game is uniquely attractive for all ages, including active seniors or easily overheated children, because:
- The court is smaller than a tennis court;
- The play time is shorter than tennis, with only 9 or 11 volleys;
- It only requires teams of two;
- The paddle is like a badminton racket;
- The perforated polymer ball is much like a lightweight whiffle ball;
- It can be played indoors or outdoors.
It is surprising to learn that pickleball has been around over 50 years, since the Vietnam War. It was created by two fathers with bored family members, at a vacation home with a badminton court but no rackets. Rather than face a week with irritable teens, Congressman Joel Pritchard and businessman Bill Bell found ping-pong paddles and a light plastic ball – thus, pickleball was born.
Local pickleball player Goldie Fairconnetue was introduced to the game by a friend and was immediately hooked. She now plays three times a week through the MS Gulf Coast Pickleball group. She also takes advantage of coaching sessions.
Goldie explained that she was initially attracted to the game because she could use her tennis skills. She obviously adapted well, as she recently won a tournament after only three months on the pickleball courts.
Although the MS Gulf Coast Pickleball Facebook group page currently has almost 700 members, courts are limited. At this time, there are no useable courts in Hancock County. The Lobouy Senior Center (9509 Lobouy Road, Pass Christian) is the closest court to Hancock County.
Goldie and her friends from Bay St. Louis and Waveland travel to Pass Christian, Gulfport and Biloxi to play. They often find time to enjoy lunch and social time between games.
A true team player, Goldie is now the MS Gulf Coast Pickleball ambassador for Hancock County. She has a dream to bring a pickleball court to Bay St. Louis and is eager to share her love of the sport with anyone and everyone.
In addition to our local pickleball ambassador and their Facebook page, MS Gulf Coast Pickleball, Inc. has a website, msgulfcoastpickleball.com.