Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1100 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.
The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics. This series is along the same lines… but is a ‘Lucky Dip’
In this series I will be sharing posts from the first six months of 2021 and on occasion I might dip into months either side to share gems. Submissions are now closed but there will be another series in January 2022.
This is the first post by Pete Springer and is about the origins of a sport that is growing in popularity, and one I had never heard of…
Pickleball—A Growing Sport
A recent pickleball match on Jack Haase’s homemade court.
One of the main reasons I retired was to make more of an effort to take better care of myself. That’s the point I discovered the wonderful sport of pickleball. I can’t recommend this activity enough for those looking for a great sport that combines power, touch, and a great workout without too much running. It is a social sport because the games are short, and typically one plays with different partners against multiple opponents. One of my former teaching colleagues, Jack Haase, introduced me to the sport.
For those unfamiliar with the game, pickleball does not involve pickles. It is a relatively new sport, having been around since 1965. It combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. How the game began is an entertaining story in itself. The game originated on Bainbridge Island, just off the coast of Seattle, WA. As sometimes happens with inventions, it started almost by accident when three dads, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, came up with an idea to keep their children busy and out of their hair. Being curious about things like this, I found this fascinating interview with Barney McCallum, who retells how they came up with the idea.
There once was a commonly held myth that pickleball got its name from the family dog named Pickles, who was notorious for running away with the ball. It made for a great story to have a sport named after a dog, but the reality was that pickleball came before the dog. One of the Pritchard children, Frank, remembers that the name came from his mother. Frank’s mother was a competitive rower, and the term used for the slowest boat in those races was “the pickle boat.” Another one of the Pritchard daughters, Peggy, said they owned two dogs named Lulu and Pickles. She maintained that the dog, Pickles, was named after the sport instead of the other way around.
Pickleball is played in a badminton-sized court (44ft. by 20 ft.) with singles or doubles. The latter seems to be the more popular version. It’s a pretty easy game to pick up. I learned how to play on my first day trying the sport. The best way to learn is to watch a small sample of the game and then dive right in. This short introduction on YouTube teaches the basics of the game.
Most beginners struggle with learning they can’t be in “the kitchen,” the no volley zone close to the net. The only way a player can enter the kitchen is when an opponent dinks the ball into this area.
The only equipment required to play pickleball is a paddle, a ball, and a court. Paddles can be as cheap as $15, but expect to pay anywhere from $60-$200 for a quality graphite version. The ball is made of plastic and has holes, similar to a whiffle ball. People play pickleball indoors or outdoors. Players will notice some variation in the balls as the outdoor ball is slightly heavier since wind can affect the ball’s flight. My brother, Tom, lives in Minnesota and enjoys playing golf and tennis in the summer, but he plays pickleball indoors in the winter when the weather turns cold and snowy.
In deciding to write this article, I knew the one person I wanted to highlight was my friend, Jack Haase, an all-around great guy. I got to know Jack through our years teaching elementary school together. He was a fabulous teacher, and I enjoyed working with him for many years. Equally impressive is his selfless nature and willingness to give back to the community.
It’s hard to know where to begin with all of the things he has going on, but I’ll start by highlighting his willingness to donate blood. Jack first donated blood back in the mid-70s while attending Humboldt State. He recently got a sticker for 34 gallons donated. That reflects an astounding number of 272 pints in separate donations. Jack primarily donates his plasma these days and encourages others to do the same. He estimates it takes only about two hours once a month.
Jack has been a leader for over 35 years in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Most of this time was spent as Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 54 in Eureka, CA. Former Eureka Mayor Frank Jager is the longtime Scoutmaster, a man Jack holds in the highest regard. For the last few years, Jack has served as Committee Chairman.
As if that wasn’t enough, Jack has been a local football official since 1980. He just completed his 41st year as a high school referee. Until the last few years, he also officiated youth football games. Jack usually officiated a high school game on Friday night or Saturday afternoon with several youth games on Sundays during the football season. Some of his favorite memories as an official were working games with his son, Patrick. Jack has a lot of pride knowing Patrick followed in his footsteps and had the opportunity to become the head referee (the official wearing the white hat).
Head referee, Jack Haase (center) and the rest of the officials prior to a game. That’s Jack’s son, Patrick, second from the right.
Two generations of officials–Patrick Haase (left) and Jack Haase (right).
At 67-years-young, Jack remains active by playing a lot of pickleball, which he began playing 5-6 years ago. In a typical week, he plays several times. Jack prefers the outdoor game over the indoor version but enjoys playing either. His favorite parts of the game are the exercise, competitiveness, strategy, and all of the friendships he has formed.
Pickleball is not just growing in the United States. It is booming internationally as well. Jack and his wife, Wendy, enjoy traveling, and he is always on the lookout for another game. He uses a phone app to locate games when they’re on their road trips. There are also Facebook pickleball forums where players worldwide can discuss and debate just about any aspect of the game.
One of the cool things that Jack and some of the other local pickleball players have been able to do is tour other countries and get a cultural learning tour interspersed with pickleball in several cities. Jack has already taken part in trips to Costa Rica and the Netherlands with other local players. They had a trip planned to Ireland last year that got canceled due to Covid.
Pickleball is great for any age. These are partners Luis Martinez (left) and Jack Haase (right)
Pickleball is a very social sport as you play with many different people. This is Jack Haase (left) and Mike Garcia (right).
There are quite a few people playing pickleball locally. With fewer people playing tennis, pickleball courts are sometimes replacing tennis courts or placed inside these courts. It can be confusing for tennis or pickleball players since the courts are different sizes with many other lines painted on the court.
Pickleball lines painted on a tennis court. Photo credit to Pixabay.
As a skilled craftsman, Jack frequently involves himself in home repair projects. Not only is he good with tools, but he also has confidence in his construction abilities. One admirable quality he possesses is a mindset of not being afraid to try something new.
When Covid happened, Jack took this fearlessness to a new level by making a pickleball court at his house. One of the first choices was to decide whether he wanted to play on concrete or asphalt. Concrete might hold up a little longer, but asphalt would be easier on the legs, so he went with the latter.
After he hired someone to lay asphalt down in part of his yard (just large enough to put in a pickleball court), Jack and his oldest son, Patrick, painted the lines using large squeegees for most of the application. They learned how simply by watching a lot of YouTube videos. One doesn’t use ordinary paint for a project like this. They used specialty paint made to hold up longer to outdoor use on asphalt. Jack added sand to the paint to provide better footing. It took two coats of primer and two coats of the finish color to complete the job. Jack wanted to offset areas on the court with different colors. Typically, courts are situated with a north/south orientation to avoid playing with the sun in one’s eyes. The dimensions of Jack’s property did not allow for that, so they had to place the asphalt in an east/west direction. It’s not a huge problem, but it is harder to play at certain times of the day.
For several months, Jack and his friends played with a portable net, but he decided to install something more permanent. In the last few weeks, Jack put up a new net attached to poles in the ground. As of now, it is the only court in Humboldt County with a permanent net.
It is no surprise that Jack’s court draws a lot of attention as people walk or drive by. He enjoys talking to people who stop and want to know more about pickleball and his court. When I approached Jack about writing this article, he was receptive to the idea—not because he has a big ego, but because he wants to promote and teach others about the game. He is a true ambassador to the sport.
The first coat of Jack Haase’s home project. See below for the finished product.
This is the finished court completed by father and son (Jack and Patrick Haase.)
©Pete Springer 2021
My thanks to Pete for allowing me to share posts from his archives and I hope you will head over to check out his other posts.
About Pete Springer
My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over three years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.
When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.
I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!
While I was teaching, I decided that one day I would write books for children. That ship is now in the harbor. I took some writing workshops, found a writing critique group, joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and I recently finished writing my first middle-grade novel. I’ve always connected with kids, and this is my new way of teaching.
My debut MG novel, Second Chance Summer, just got professionally edited, and I will be querying in the coming weeks.