Pickleball Picks Up at Grace Inspired Living Communities

“Kitchen,” “dill,” “falafel,” “flapjack,” “poach,” “cookie.” Outside of the culinary world, what could these words possibly have in common? Well, they are all slang lingo that may arise in Pickleball, uttered by its most avid players.

Pickleball is often described as a combination of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. According to a 2022 report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the sport grew nearly 40 percent between 2019 and 2021, making it America’s fastest-growing sport. The SFIA also reports that there are over 4.8 million pickleball players, or “picklers,” nationwide. This sport is fit for all ages. In 2021, according to the USA Pickleball Association, half the population of “serious” pickleball players were ages 55 and older.

With such a strong upswing in mind—not to mention, April is National Pickleball Month—our Life Enrichment department is bringing a Pickleball Club to Grace Inspired communities this spring and summer. LiveWell Fitness & Wellness Coordinators Kayla Jurimas, Lutheran Community at Telford (pictured on right), and Olivia Ruch, The Community at Rockhill (left), will be leading the charge. They will supply the group with rackets and equipment as needed and provide transport to a local court weekly. Before the new Club kicks off, interested residents were offered an opportunity to learn the basics of the game and discuss outing dates and times.

Lutheran Community at Telford (LCT) cottage resident Nancy Smith has been playing Pickleball regularly since 2021. At that time, members of her Women’s Bible Group encouraged Nancy to come learn the game and play with them. She says it generally isn’t hard to pick up if you have someone to initially guide you. Still, she honed her own skills by taking indoor lessons at a local YMCA in the few years prior to moving to LCT. Nancy also got herself a pair of court shoes, like for tennis. That way, she adds, your foot doesn’t move side-to-side as much as it would in a regular sneaker, reducing risk of injury to your ankles or tarsal bones. According to Nancy, “Pickleball is a great way to get to know new people and exercise at the same time.”

Pickleball may be a booming trend in 2024, but it is not a new sport. In fact, history claims it was invented during the mid-1960s by Washington Congressman Joel Pritchard, international businessman Bill Bell and an entrepreneur & salesman named Barney McCallum. Yet, it did not start gaining rapid popularity until the global COVID-19 pandemic. It was a way for people of all ages to stay active and fit while also getting out of their homes and maintaining social distance. The sport’s official league, Major League Pickleball, or MLP, was not created until 2021, materializing the true growth of a sport that has been on the rise since it began more than 50 years ago.

Did you know that almost four pickleball courts can fit onto one tennis court? A New York Times article asserts that Pickleball is not only easier to learn than tennis, but also slower paced and holds less ground to cover. For this reason, some research suggests that Pickleball may be safer than tennis for people with heart issues. Most picklers play doubles, so the game can even be played from a wheelchair. The namesake of Pickleball is highly debated; the popular, possibly defunct version is that the game was named after Pritchard’s family dog, Pickles (e.g., commanding “Pickles—ball!”). As for the true origin of the name, it is said that his wife named it after the pickle boats involved in crew/rowing, which are symbolically comparable to a game born of leftover equipment from other sports.

Nancy Smith’s oldest grandson is only 12 years old, so perhaps a little too young to play yet, but she does feel Pickleball is multi-generational. She sees picklers of all ages at courts she has gone to in the past, including younger family members of the friends she plays with. Nancy is eager to explore the newly constructed courts that our Pickleball Club will be venturing to. When choosing a retirement community, an on-site Pool or Aquatics Center was important to her as she is an avid swimmer and enjoys water aerobics. Nancy is very happy that her new residence will now integrate one of her other hobbies, and Grace Inspired Living is honored to provide this and many other engaging activities and interest groups to all of our residents through our Life Enrichment programs.



About the Author

Picture of Kim Bydlon

Kim Bydlon

Kim is the Marketing & Communications Manager for Grace Inspired Living. She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from West Chester University of PA and works part-time as a Sales Consultant for a bridal boutique. Kim spends her free time with family, traveling and performing as a professional vocalist. Her well-rounded experience includes Marketing, Events, Public Relations, Project Management, Web Design and Community Outreach throughout industries such as Executive Search, Dining Services, Healthcare Publishing, Artists Management and Local Government. Kim is thrilled to be a part of the Marketing & Sales Team at Grace since mid-2023.

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