We have just begun my favorite month of the year. April means great weather and baseball.
It also means something else for many active seniors: April is National Pickleball Month, a calendar honor for America’s favorite geezer game.
It’s been about 10 years since most players in the Valley first heard of Pickleball, the fun game with the funny name.
But a passion that began with a few of us on a backyard court in Fowler has taken off like a Jumbo Jet filled with Baby Boomers.
Because it is boomers who have built Pickleball into a sports/recreation juggernaut.
A brief history lesson for those of you under 60 years old: In the 1970’s and ‘80s America experienced what was called the “tennis boom.” As more public courts were built, tennis broke free of its country club status and became accessible to the masses.
Fast forward several decades and we boomers are breaking down and/or slowing down. Enter Pickleball, a tennis-like game — using a holey ball and a paddle on a badminton-sized court — that has become the fastest-growing recreational sport in America.
No more running after a bouncy ball on a large court. Pickleball is, to the benefit of seniors, easier on the body.
That explains why the Sports & Fitness Industry Association reports that 75 percent of regular Pickleball players are 55 and older.
Last weekend I attended the Visalia Senior Games, a two-weekend Sports festival for the over-50 crowd. The Pickleball competition drew approximately 150 players on Saturday and Sunday.
Selma has a reputation as a Pickleball Mecca. We have four permanent courts at Brentlinger Park which are used for recreational play by our regulars on Tuesday and Friday mornings. On many Saturdays our courts are filled with players from Fresno and Visalia who meet halfway to wage battle with paddle and ball.
And by setting up portable Pickleball lines and nets on the adjacent tennis courts, we have the potential for eight courts.
We will need all eight for the Selma Spring Classic on May 18-19. We expect to host several dozen players from Bakersfield/Visalia/Fresno and beyond for a fund-raiser for the Selma Public Educational Foundation.
But before that, let us celebrate Pickleball Month with this proposal: Show up at Brentlinger Park between 9 and 10 on any Tuesday or Friday morning in April for an introductory Pickleball lesson. I’ll be your coach. I have extra paddles and balls. Just bring your curiosity and enthusiasm.
Oh, and one more thing. When National Pickle Month rolls around in July, don’t call me for a dill treat. I hang out at the court, not the deli.