Pickle of a paddle; A group of women hit the pickleball court for fun and activity
Published 8:39 am Friday, January 27, 2017
This story appeared in the January-February edition of Austin Living
Janet Hokanson is 76 years old, but she’s not missing a beat, especially when she’s on the pickleball court.
Hokanson is one of 10 Austin women who regularly play pickleball at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday night at the YMCA. It’s not a league, but the games allow for a little competition, and a lot of fun.
Email newsletter signup
“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” said Hokanson, a former physical education teacher who coached varsity tennis for eight years.
“We have to keep moving every day doing something. Pickleball is fun. We can laugh a lot and get exercise at the same time. It’s wonderful.”
The group was started a couple of years ago when Margaret Johnson organized a group of women from the Hormel Corporate Office to play pickleball outdoors at the Neveln Elementary courts. The group originally had to rent their paddles, but eventually they were able to start playing in the YMCA that provides a year-round place to meet.
Johnson was able to recruit a group of players by sending out e-mails. She also plays pickleball three mornings a week in Albert Lea and she’s grown to love the sport.
“It’s just fun to get together with a bunch of ladies and get out there and exercise,” Johnson said. “Most of us would play every day if we could.”
DeAnne Silbaugh was one of the first players to join the group of pickleball players. She said it’s a great way to stay active in a sport that requires less running, but still requires fast reaction time at the net.
A pickleball is about the size of a baseball and it doesn’t bounce extraordinarily high, which requires players to be quick on their feet.
“I played tennis and racquetball, but as we got older we had injuries and we couldn’t play anymore, so we rounded up all of our tennis friends and we started playing pickleball,” Silbaugh said. “Margaret talked a few of us into playing. The rest is history.”
Deedee Marx used to teach pickleball when she was a physical education teacher in the 1980s and 1990s and she wants to see the sport continue to spread.
“We’re just trying to bring the sport back,” Marx said. “The rules are a little complicated until you know about them and get used to it. It’s a good fast-paced game and even we can play it in our 60s and 70s.”
Johnson said the group is looking for more pickleball players and anyone interested in joining can contact Austin Parks, Recreation and Forestry or the YMCA. Anyone interested in playing doesn’t have to bring a partner, as the group usually mixes up teams.