Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Pickleball in Oxford: a Sweet Sport with a Sour Name

OPD offers winter Pickleball for Leisure Lifestyle adults at the Oxford Activity Center
OPD offers winter Pickleball for Leisure Lifestyle adults at the Oxford Activity Center

Alert the media; Oxford has pickleball!

That’s right, pickleball – and Lafayette-Oxford-University residents are able to join in on the action every Tuesday and Thursday morning at the Oxford Park Commission Activity Center.

OK; that’s great but what is pickle ball?

According the official pickleball website (yes – you read that right), usapa.org, “Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington. Three dads; Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities are credited with creating the game. It has evolved from original hand-made equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada. The game is growing internationally as well with many European and Asian countries adding courts. Currently, US pickleball participation is at approximately 2.46 million players.”

Pickleball is played with a modified wooden paddle and a plastic whiffle ball which slows down the pace of the activity resulting in long rallies.
Pickleball is played with a modified wooden paddle and a plastic whiffle ball which slows down the pace of the activity resulting in long rallies.
Pickleball is a lifetime activity and paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels with simple rules and skills that are easy for beginners to learn. However, once mastered, pickleball can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game that can quickly become addictive to some.

The sport itself combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong and is played on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis (type) net. A bonus for L-O-U residents considering our weather swings is that it can be played indoors or out; in either single or doubles format.

Sounds similar to tennis right? The catch, however, is that the game is played with a paddle (smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle) and a plastic type of whiffle ball; perfect for long rallies and bragging rights after winning points. It is estimated that the pickball ball itself travels one-third of the speed of a tennis ball (according to usapa.org) resulting in the rally increase.

Oxford Activity Center director Sam Pryor realizes the importance and popularity of the activity in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community.

“Pickleball is really popular here,” Pryor said. “Unfortunately at this time of year we’ve had to scale back the program due to our youth basketball leagues. Right now we’re playing pickleball on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.”

Although a lifetime activity for all ages, right now OPC’s pickleball focus is on adults.

“It’s all adults playing pickleball right now; people that participate in our Leisure Lifestyles program for people over 40,” Pryor said. “It’s not an actual league yet but we’re about to get that size.”

Oxford Park Commission encourages local residents to grab their athletic shoes and loose clothing and head to the Activity Center located at 400 Price Street in Oxford immediately across from OPD for some intense 40-and-over pickleball action.

However, take note: 39-year-old residents may be able to squeak by security because, according to Pryor, “We never card at our pickleball events.”

For more information about OPC, visit its website at oxfordparkcommission.com. For more information about OPC’s pickleball program, contact Sam Pryor at the Activity Center at 662-232-2379.


Jeff McVay is a staff writer and graphic designer for Hottytoddy.com. He can be reached at jeff.mcvay@hottytoddy.com.

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