GREEN COVE SPRINGS – If you happen to be walking near Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym on a Monday morning, you’ll probably hear some light thumping and yelling coming from inside.
Well don’t be alarmed, nothing sinister is going on inside, it is just a group getting a game of Pickleball in.
If you have never heard of Pickleball, well welcome to the newest sports craze. The USA Pickleball Association calls it one of the fastest growing sports in America.
Pickleball has rules that are very similar to tennis but is played on a smaller court. For example, 2 pickleball courts can fit in the same space as a standard tennis court.
Pickleball players use a large paddle, similar to a ping pong paddle, to hit a wiffle ball across the net to score points. According to the USA Pickleball, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum are credited with creating the sport in 1965.
Glee Glisson, Green Cove Springs Park and Recreation Program director, brought the sport here as a new program. She has a history of playing Pickleball, having played for 2 years and even competing across the state in different tournaments.
Glisson said one of the best things about Pickleball is that it can be play as casually as players like or as competitively as possible and there are places for all skill levels.
“You can play this sport as competitively as you’d like to, use it for weight loss, use it for cardiovascular endurance,” said Glisson “Overall it’s for good fitness.”
Glisson said attendance at the weekly games has seen a sharp increase as word has filtered through the community. She said she sees more and more people coming all the time.
Danny Blevins is a volunteer who helps set up the games each week has been playing Pickleball for 3 years and said he was introduced to the sport by a friend.
“We used to play tennis together and then I got to where I could not play tennis,” said Blevins “She asked me to check out Pickleball.”
Blevins said that he began to play with his friend at Penney Retirement Community and slowly became addicted to the game.
Blevins said, at first, attendance was small but that it slowly grew into what it is now.
“By spreading the information by word of mouth our group began to grow a little bit at a time and as you see today we have lots of people.”
Blevins said it is really good because the court is smaller than a tennis court and the wiffle ball moves slower, so it can be good for people who are just looking for a good workout.
Pickleball has grown rapidly and every year a national championship is held with this years scheduled for Nov. 3-11 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.
If you would like to try out pickleball, the group meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. and Noon or you can visit https://www.places2play.org/ to find a location to play near you.