Our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group got some lovely, spring weather this Wednesday. As some of us passed the top of Piedmont Park, we were taken back by the beauty of cherry trees in full blossom. An excellent turnout of 32 walkers were at the Exedra for a fun, special walk.
There is a five month test being conducted by the Recreation Department of using the courts at the Linda/Beach Playfield for full time Pickleball play. Four Pickleball nets have been set on the old tennis courts, and Pickleball is open for play from 9 AM to 9 PM every day. Helen and Quincy Dong are walkers and also Pickleballers. We had heard about Pickleball, so the Dongs were asked to take us down to Linda/Beach to see Pickleball in action.
However, before we headed out, it was decided to see just how much Quincy really knew about Pickleball. He has been playing for the five years since Pickleball made its 2018 appearance in Piedmont, but did he know how the sport got its name? Quincy said the sport might be named after a dog. A Wikipedia search revealed the game was created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island,
Washington, at the summer home of Joel Pritchard. He and two friends devised the game. According to Joan Pritchard, Joel's wife, "The name of the game became Pickle Ball after I said it reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats." Other sources say "Pickleball" came from the name of the Pritchard's dog, Pickles. However, research confirmed the dog was born after the game had been named. A third possibility is that hitting the ball a certain way puts your opponent "in a pickle." Another thought is the game got its name because Pickleballs are covered with holes, sort of like pickles.
A conclusive basis for the game's name was not determined, but it was time for Helen Dong to take the walk leader's red baton, actually the top of an old broom stick, and go to the courts. Helen took us down Magnolia Avenue past the high school. Work on the new aquatics center was fully underway. A very large Deere backhoe was scooping large amounts of earth out of a very
large hole where the old pool once was, and dumping them into a very large truck with another one waiting.
Helen stopped in front of the middle school and told us about the Pickleball courts down the school hill where there is weekend play. Then it was up Hillside Avenue to Oakland Avenue. We went down Oakland to Latham Street, which we all knew from past walks is the only Piedmont "street," all the other roadways being "avenues," "drives," "ways," or something else. However, Quincy had some new information. He asked how many Piedmont streets there really are. No one knew, so Quincy shared that according to Piedmont Police Chief Bowers there are 145.
Our large group continued on down Oakland and regrouped for a mass crossing of Grand Avenue, and up to the playfield. We entered on Howard Avenue and made our way down and around the turf playfield that was being used for chaotic kicking of small balls by lots of young Beach P.E. students. We came out on Linda Avenue and went up to the Pickleball courts' entrance. We went behind three sets of four Pickleballers to an open area where we could watch the action. Pickleballer Lucy Chiang thoughtfully provided some rackets and encouraged us to play. Pickleball group leader Rick Schiller came over and talked about the health and community building benefits of the sport. We took a group photo with Rick, and then it was time for us to try it out.
It was fun, but soon time for us to make our way back up Oakland Avenue. Quincy and Helen stayed to play, so the leader baton was handed off to Jim Kellogg for the return to the Exedra.