Rise In An Unpopular Sport: Pickleball During The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Photo Courtesy of Wyatt Campagna

Wyatt and his friends are playing pickleball at a local court. He likes playing pickleball because everyone is pleasant to play with, and he often makes new friends.

Any student living through the COVID-19 pandemic will remember the trending activities it seemed like everyone took part in: playing Among Us, doing Chloe Ting workouts, watching Tiger King, and… playing pickleball?

Pickleball currently has over 3.3 million players in the U.S. alone and has become the world’s fastest-growing sport during the pandemic. A no-contact game that centers around community, placement, and pace, pickleball is the perfect option for making new friends and getting exercise amid COVID-19, no matter a player’s skill level or athletic ability.

Campagna and his friends are playing pickleball for their leisure. He plays pickleball during his free time when he isn’t on the basketball court. (Photo Courtesy of Wyatt Campagna)

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, table tennis, and badminton which includes unique rules and concepts that make it so popular. The game is played in pairs; each team tries to score a point on the other using paddles to hit a wiffle ball over the net. The court is similar to a smaller version of a tennis court with a non-volley zone called the kitchen, seven feet from the net.

The game has many aspects that make it special, so special in fact that many staff members and students partake in the sport during their free time. Sophomore Wyatt Campagna was introduced to pickleball by his parents while on a family trip to Palm Springs.

“My parents have been playing for a while and got me hooked onto it,” Campagna said, “I really like the people… everyone is super nice and it’s fun to have a partner and meet new people.”

In addition to being a great game for students, pickleball also appeals to people of all ages. Campagna believes that players don’t have to be super agile in comparison to games like football, basketball, or volleyball where being nimble is a key component to mastering the sport. This helps it appeal to a wider range of ages, reaching the masses during these hard times.

Vice-principal Shannon Harrington and athletic director Andrea Williams started playing against each other during Labor Day weekend 2020. They occasionally take on principal Jesse Schuveiller and mentioned that he’s a natural athlete and plays a competitive game.

Harrington was originally taught how to play by Campagna’s parents, Mark and Carol, over the summer. Even though pickleball is similar to other games, Harrington says that it does have quirks that make it different.

“If you’re playing couples, each person gets a turn at serving. You earn poi

Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in Encinitas is home to many famous pickleball and tennis players. It is also a popular pickleball court for the Sage Creek community. (Photo Taken From bobbyriggs.net)

nts on your serve – that’s the only way that you can earn a point – and the goal is to get to 11 and win by two… if you earned zero points an entire game, you got pickled,” Harrington said.

Harrington and Williams credit that since the game is outside and partners are usually members of the same household, it naturally abides by social distancing protocols. Players can also wear masks, giving the game a sense of security.

Although people love playing pickleball for the competition, the main reason it’s so popular is that it’s a social game that promotes community, even during the pandemic. The pickleball spirit has been passed on from one bobcat to another, making it a game that students, staff, and parents enjoy. Anyone looking for some friendly competition can find it playing against other members of the Sage Creek community.

However, beware… in the world of pickleball, Principal Schuveiller is kind of a big dill.