“Pickleball is here to stay, you betcha!” said Minnesota native Cheri Carruth about her new favorite hobby. On a trip to her hometown, Virginia, Minn., she and her husband Lee were introduced to the sport that changed their lives.
“We just kinda heard about it and were visiting her hometown. And they had (tennis) courts, but everyone was playing pickleball,” Lee said.
According to pickleball.com, the game began in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Wash., invented by Congressman Joel Pritchard, William Bell and Barney McCallum. It incorporates elements from “Ping-Pong, tennis and badminton” and was intended to “provide a sport for the entire family.” The sport is played with paddles and balls with holes in them, on a court about half the size of a tennis court. The unique name was inspired by a dog named Pickle, who wouldn’t quit chasing the balls hit off the court.
Cheri and Lee returned to their residence in El Dorado Hills’ Four Season’s Active Adult Community and immediately introduced the game to other players. Pretty soon, with the help of a few others in the community, they started a pickleball league complete with shirts, professional paddles and plans for courts especially for the sport. Cheri said other pickleball leagues are springing up in neighboring communities in Lincoln and Auburn, and she hopes the El Dorado Hills league will compete in tournaments against them.
Good friend Norm Headley, a former doctor in Placerville, inspired Cheri to introduce it. “I don’t think it would have started unless (Norm) came up to me and said, ‘You gotta get this started,’” Cheri recalled. “He died a week later.” She started the league to honor his request, and because pickleball is a great sport for her community.
“We’re enjoying playing pickle ball. Get some sweat, run around, feeling healthy. It gets the heart pumping for the rest of the day — a great way to start the day,” said David Tyburski, who was also instrumental in starting up the league. “You can see how friendly a game it is. The people are laughing. It’s a very social game.”
The smaller court requires less running to play. It seems to be much easier on seniors’ joints and hips than tennis, but don’t let that fool you, cautioned Lee, the league’s alleged star player. “This game can be very competitive. It can be very fast,” he said. “I’m a very avid tennis player and I like this game very much. It’s like ‘mini tennis’.”
The average age of the players on the court is about 65 in the Four Seasons community, but pickleball is a suitable sport for all ages. Some middle schools and high schools in El Dorado County include the sport in their physical education curriculum. About 32 seniors in the Four Season’s community participate in the sport three times a week. Laressa Carr, an enthusiastic player said, “The people are fun, and you get a workout.” She said she believes pickleball is, “the fastest growing sport for people over 55.”
“I always encourage people to start now, because we’re (all) starting at the same level,” Cheri said.