• Jaspah Kilner tries his hand at pickle ball during a clinic last week held by the Camden County Pickleball Club.

Pickleball gets military group's focus

Staying out of the kitchen means one thing for an habitual snacker at home, but it has a totally different interpretation on the pickleball court.

For those with the local Team RWB (Red, White and Blue) chapter, those were among the lessons learned last Friday as the veterans support group and their families tried the paddle sport at Howard Peeples Park in Kingsland. Under the direction of the Camden Pickleball Club, they received instruction in the basics and paired off for friendly games of doubles at the park’s four dedicated courts.

The national Team RWB association, which is about five years old, aims to enrich the lives of veterans and helps them connect with their communities through social and physical family-oriented activities. 

The Camden Kings Bay group, according to chapter captain Mike Hanna, is about three or four months old and has about 60 members. Outings are planned based on interests. 

“We’re trying to get the veterans because that’s who we’re trying to help,” he said. “We’re just getting the wheels rolling here. I’m really optimistic it’s going to catch on.”

An offbeat mix of tennis, badminton and other racket and paddle sports, pickleball is played on a court measuring 20 feet by 44 feet, or about a third the size of a tennis court. The kitchen — more officially called the non-volley zone — refers to a 7-foot area closest to the net on both sides, and from where players are prohibited from playing the ball directly out of the air. 

For pickleball rookies more geared toward tennis and unfamiliar with the cozier court confines, winning rallies may require an altered approach. Though games only go to 11 points, keeping track of the score and the serving order can challenge both newcomers and seasoned players alike.

First-timer Eric Agnew liked the speed of the game and noticed similarities to racquetball. In pickleball, he said, there’s “definitely a different strategy, a lot of different rules, unique rules.”

Swatting a perforated plastic ball took some getting used to as well. “After about 30 minutes, I started to get a little better feel,” he said.

For Ashley Haye, last Friday brought back pleasant memories of playing pickleball as a high-school student in Illinois.

“You’re always moving around,” she said, and one never knows “where the ball is going to go … It’s fun. I like it, that’s for sure.” 

Those interested in learning more about the local Team RWB chapter can email mikehanna@teamrwb.org. For more information about Camden pickleball game days and events, contact Judy Goodson at (479) 806-8740 or jggoodson06@gmail.com

Tribune & Georgian

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