Jill Perry, Organizer of Goshen Pickleballers

Jill Perry

Coordinator — Goshen Pickleballers

Published June 2023

Leading the Local Pickleball Charge

When I was a youngster in school we only had the Physical Education class for girls and that was about the extent of it. We didn’t have all of the competitive sports for girls, back then, like there are now; in fact we didn’t have any competitive sports for girls, at all. I didn’t have the opportunity to play sports in my youth and develop a lot of athletic skills in that way – so my hand-eye coordination was never that great.

My husband, Doug, and I are members of Goshen Pickleballers and I’m an event organizer and coordinator for the league – and both of us help out as instructors. Doug used to play a lot of tennis, and he was quite a good player. I played also, but not at his level. When we discovered pickleball around seven years ago, I just really took to it. Pickleball felt like it was more accessible to me – it made me feel like it was something I could stick with.

Pickleball has been gathering momentum for the past five or six years – it’s actually the fastest growing sport in America. That’s been happening for a while, but – now – with a lot of famous, former tennis players switching over to pickleball it’s getting even more popular.

It’s a lot easier on your body than tennis. You’re not having to run across a huge court, and in pickleball the service is underhand and many of the shots are underhand. In tennis all those repetitive overhand services can be really hard on your arms, elbows, and shoulders over time. I think that’s how pickleball started out – it was something that older people could continue to do. There are people who play in the open who are over 100 years old.

A lot of people think it’s a slower game because it’s played in a smaller area than tennis – one tennis court can be split into four pickleball courts. But with a pickleball court being shorter, things come at you very fast – the ball really moves in pickleball.

So you won’t have to sprint to far-court to save a shot, but you do have to have good hand-eye coordination. Mine is better than it used to be. I think for a lot of the older folks who get into pickleball this hand-eye training element is very beneficial. I also think that playing the sport can help older people with balance issues, which we know can cause challenges down the road.

Pickleball players like to get together, be social and be healthy.

Also, the interactions between players are rarely heated or ultra-competitive. People come to events, and, yes, they take games seriously – but there’s also an element you don’t see in other sports. People give each other tips after matches, people help each other to improve their games. It’s not cutthroat.

A few times a month we have a Dink and Dine event. Dinking is a type of drop shot in pickleball – a lot of players use it as a strategy to force the opponent into a fault or a hurried volley. A Dink and Dine is just when everyone brings some type of food and we have a potluck dinner and a round-robin tournament for different levels of players.

In Goshen we have eight dedicated courts outside, and during the winter months we have access to three courts – inside Model Elementary School. One thing I can say for sure is that we need more pickleball courts. We have over 400 registered players here across the different divisions and age levels – we organize through the Goshen Parks Department. The courts are expensive to build, and often they need resurfacing every few years – but based on the numbers we are seeing there is no doubt that we need additional pickleball courts here in Goshen.

I just love this sport. I totally love it. I actually play every day for around two hours or so, and I love being involved in helping others — older folks and youngsters — learn about pickleball.

I think for me the draw is that it’s so much fun and very accesible. Most sports you have to stop at some point as you get older, but pickleball is really not that way. That’s one of the many unique things about this sport, you can play it well into an advanced age. You can really play it for life.

Goshen Pickleballers are a group of pickleball enthusiasts who gather to get exercise, enjoy the game and socialize. To learn more about the Goshen Pickleballers, contact Jill at jillperry05@comcast.net or (574) 536-6141. To watch pickleball in action, mark Aug. 4 on your calendar — the August First Fridays Goshen Games features a pickleball tourney in Downtown Goshen.

Written by Jake Sandock