July 24, 2024


Day With badminton

Pickleball’s Popularity Propelled By The Pandemic

2 min read

By Kevin Murnane

The pandemic made area residents stay inside, work from home, and not go to the gym. But for two Severna Park residents, Jake Baxter and Brian Nichols, the “cabin fever” of the pandemic was overwhelming.

“We used to play a lot of tennis before the pandemic and Jake went down to Florida to visit his parents and tried pickleball,” Nichols said. “Jake came back and taught me the game, and we loved it and began getting other friends involved. We started with six people and now the league has snowballed to 60.”

Pickleball is a combination of tennis and Ping-Pong. The game is played on smaller courts and is easy to learn. The game’s history originated in 1965 in Washington, where a family on vacation needed some activity to keep everyone entertained. They used Ping-Pong paddles and a plastic ball and a makeshift badminton net. The name pickleball comes from the pickle boat races where leftover rowers from the crew race for fun.

That creative family game has become a sport that has its tournaments on ESPN, has a national following and has 50,00 people in the USA Pickleball Association.

“It’s a great game and it only takes about an hour and a half to play and is very inexpensive,” Nichols said.

Baxter said, “Most of us are from Severna Park and played high school sports. This is a way we have reconnected with old friendships and rekindled that competitive flame.”

Some of those old high school rivalries have been re-established as many players are former athletes from Severna Park, Spalding, Severn and St. Mary’s.

They have had three tournaments so far and each tournament has grown in participants. The league has grown by word of mouth and social media platforms.

“We have even converted some golfers to pickleball because it’s less time-consuming and a much better workout,” Nichols said.

They play all doubles, with games going to 11 points, and they are best-of-five matches.

“We’re competitive but not cutthroat,” Nichols said. “All you need is a paddle and pickleballs and you can get those at sporting goods stores or Amazon.”

There are many pickleball courts in the area including Cypress Creek, Lake Waterford and Elvaton and private courts in Chartwell, Shipley’s Choice and Glen Oban.

Pickleball has become one of the positive and healthy stories out of the pandemic and has served as a reunion-like community activity for those who want to renew old friendships and make new friends in the Severna Park community.

For more information, email Jake Baxter at [email protected] or follow the Instagram account @kympl_aa.co.

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