Pickleball may sound like a strange term for a sport but it's the fastest growing sport in the United States. Three years ago, pickleball was brought to Michigan State University through the MSU Pickleball Association.
The sport is played on a mini-version of a tennis court and uses paddles and a wiffle ball. Pickleball can be played between two or four players and the game requires quick reflexes, calculated strategy and teamwork.
Newly managed by a board of students, the MSU Pickleball Association gives students who are interested in pickleball an opportunity to try it out or to increase their skill. Three members of the board – mechanical engineering senior Trent Warren, accounting senior Nicholas Spadafore and human biology senior Matthew Hoffman – were excited to take over after the previous president stepped down because pickleball was popular in their hometown.
“We are just really excited to — for people who are interested in pickleball, just give them an outlet and somewhere they can go play every week,” Warren said.
Flexibility is the best thing about the association, Spadafore said. Both beginners and experienced players can attend practices and tournaments are optional.
Members of the MSU Pickleball Association use practice time not only to play but also to meet new people and become a part of the community.
“If there’s three of you and you need one more you can just grab a random person and you can talk a little bit in between points and stuff but you’re also playing the game so there’s not too much awkward silence,” Warren said.
Business sophomore and board member Olivia DelVerne said the association plans to meet for regular hangouts like hay rides to grow bonds with one another outside of practice.
“(The MSU Pickleball Association) does a good job minimizing and finding a smaller group to get to know on a more personal level,” DelVerne said.
Education sophomore and board member Kaylee Schaner said the collaboration between players of all skill levels she sees is encouraging. At their first meet on Saturday, Feb. 19 against the University of Michigan, Schaner said she learned more about the sport and meeting players from Michigan was a great experience.
“Trying to build something that will outlast our time here at Michigan State is also pretty rewarding,” Warren said.
The board hopes the association will continue to grow as it has in the past year and as they plan more tournaments and gain more members. Though it hasn't been easy, Hoffman says the board enjoys the work that they do.
“I think we can all say that we take pride and we’re proud to kind of set some of these building blocks to try to get this club going and more popularized for the community at Michigan State,” Hoffman said.
MSU Pickleball Association holds practices twice a week: A formal practice on Thursdays from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and open play on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at IM East. The association plans to hold fundraisers and more tournaments in the future. Updates will be posted on their Instagram page.