2017-08-24 / Life in Leelanau

PICKLE-PALOOZA

Pickleball players continue to proliferate across the peninsula, keeping older residents healthy
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


RALPH HOMMEL gets ready to serve on the pickleball court in Cedar, where the sport has people out three mornings a week getting some exercise. RALPH HOMMEL gets ready to serve on the pickleball court in Cedar, where the sport has people out three mornings a week getting some exercise. With indoor and outdoor courts in most Leelanau communities, the sport of pickleball shows no sign of slowing down.

It is, in fact, hotter than ever.

Just ask Renee McClain, of Florida, who spends her summers at the Leelanau Pines Campground. She’s been playing pickleball for about three years and spends a few mornings a week at the pickleball courts in Cedar.

“It’s a blast,” McClain said.

Paula Rettenmund also spends her summers at the campground. She just started playing pickleball last year and said it’s easy to learn and keeps her in shape.

“It’s kind of a combination of tennis and badminton,” Rettenmund said.

The game has players batting plastic whiffle-like balls around a court that is smaller than a tennis court. A standard pickleball court measures 20 feet wide by 44 feet long, while a tennis court is 27 feet wide by 78 feet long.


BEV TIERNAN, from left, Judy Reinhardt, Renee McClain and Paula Rettenmund are a regular pickleball foursome after meeting at the Leelanau Pines Campground. BEV TIERNAN, from left, Judy Reinhardt, Renee McClain and Paula Rettenmund are a regular pickleball foursome after meeting at the Leelanau Pines Campground. Pickleball players say there’s less running around than in tennis and it’s easier on the joints — making it the perfect sport for older people, but still a good workout.

“It’s an activity that you can do at any skill level at any age,” said Bev Tiernan, a retired physical education teacher. “And it’s very social. Even if you’re not doing well it’s a fun game. You’re outside, you’re moving — it’s just a fun game.”

Tiernan also summers at the campground.

“We didn’t have anybody to play with so we taught everybody at the campground to play,” Tiernan said.


RENEE MCCLAIN serves cross-court to Judy Reinhardt during a pickleball game Monday morning at the Cedar courts. RENEE MCCLAIN serves cross-court to Judy Reinhardt during a pickleball game Monday morning at the Cedar courts. Judy Reinhardt, who lives in Cedar, said she stopped to look at a sign promoting pickleball outside the Solon Township Hall and was recruited on the spot.

“This group of people is so much fun,” Reinhardt said. “Having fun is very important to me.”

That social aspect is also important to Paul Kaye, also of Cedar.

“I like the camaraderie more than anything else,” Kaye said. “This is just to meet more people.”

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle by three dads whose children were on their summer break and were bored.

The game’s name comes from co-inventor Joel Pritchard’s wife, who was a competitive rower and often called the slowest vessel in a race the ‘pickle boat.’

Another story has it that the game was named after the family dog, Pickles, who is said to have loved to chase stray balls and hide them in the bushes. That story was debunked by Pritchard’s daughter, who said the dog was actually named after the game.

Pickleball is played at the Cedar courts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon.

There are also pickleball courts in Northport, in Suttons Bay Village and at Herman Park in Suttons Bay Township and in Empire, where outdoor courts at Johnson Park are used in good weather and the Empire Township Hall is used when it’s raining and through the winter.

In Glen Arbor there are two indoor pickleball courts at the township hall and three at the Leelanau School. There are another four outdoor courts at the school and three courts in the works for the Glen Arbor community park that will be funded by a millage recently passed by township voters.

And while pickleball is ideal for older folks, people of all ages are enjoying the sport.

“More and more younger people are playing it, too,” said Diane Calsbeek, who organizes the sport in Glen Arbor.

Calsbeek has an email list of 92 people she regularly sends information to, but said there are a lot of visitors to the area who just drop in to play.

The sport is a good substitute for people who used to play tennis but find they no longer have the stamina.

“This is a cross between ping pong and tennis,” Calsbeek said. “It’s a real fast-moving game without killing yourself.”

While there are not yet pickleball tournaments in the area, Calsbeek said there are both skills training clinics and tournaments being planned for the near future.

To drop in on a game, visit the Glen Arbor Township Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; or the Leelanau School on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Participants don’t have to sign up to play, but it is helpful to know how many people will be there on any given day, Calsbeek said.

To sign up visit glenarbortownship.com, go to the Parks and Recreation page and scroll down for a link that will take you to the sign-up page.

Top indoor-outdoor sports for older folks:

 Walking

 Swimming

 Yoga, Tai Chi and Wii Bowling

 Dancing

 Tennis or badminton (and, of course, pickleball)

Source: Seniorcitylocal.com

Return to top