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How I Got Started in Pickleball – Dink Tank Norm

Sporting origin stories are usually boring since they largely consist of falling in love with whatever sports one of your parents loved. Occasionally there’s an interesting break from the norm (Michael Phelps getting enrolled in swimming by his mother to burn off excess energy), but by and large, we all fall in love with most major sports the same way.

Pickleball origin stories are way more interesting, though. Whether that means a D1 college tennis coach turning her attention to being a top pro, a college basketball referee moonlighting as a national champ, or a college hockey player parlaying his quick wrists into great kitchen play, people’s pickleball conversion stories are just more interesting.

That brings me to my own introduction into pickleball, and one that only could have come about with the added free time of the pandemic. I played a lot of baseball and basketball growing up, and if I ever played tennis, it was likely using the racquet to hit the ball as far as I could. I was good enough to play baseball after high school and tricked a few pro scouts into letting me play in the minor leagues for 5 years as a catcher.

One local friend that also was a former pro catcher already had the pickleball bug before the pandemic. He’d tried to lure me in to play a few times, and I recycled some variation of the phrase, “I’ll consider it when I’m 60” as my excuse to not play. He finally hooked me in over a session of local IPAs one night when he put together a group of 8 for the next morning.

Playing with a borrowed paddle and hitting every ball as hard as I possibly could, I was hooked immediately. Upon finishing the first session, I ordered a paddle and plotted out my next time to play; a few weeks later, I started my own Saturday morning group with some other locals, and we’ve played every Saturday morning that the weather allows since then (including some days where we shouldn’t have been out there). 

I’ve upgraded my paddle a couple times since and revised my banging strategy, but the local community of players still has me as giddy as my first session a year and a half ago.

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