May 24, 2022 Submitted by Linden Ponds
For more than twenty years, Bill Humberd competed in tennis matches every other week. “I love to play,” he says. “I played with a great group of men for many years.”
In 2015, Bill discovered a new racquet sport – pickleball – at the Norwell Town Recreation Center. “I was immediately intrigued,” he says. “I learned the game quickly from experienced players. Before long, I was helping teach beginners.”
In the months that followed, several towns on the South Shore opened pickleball courts in their recreation centres.
“I was often invited to play in these other places”, explains Bill. “The popularity of the sport was evident. For those of us who love to play, it was an opportunity to improve our games as we faced better and better players.”
spread the word
In 2018, Bill and his wife Susan moved to Linden Ponds, an Erickson Senior Living community in Hingham, Mass.
“I was lucky because I was still close enough to continue playing games within the local community,” he says. “But I knew my new neighbors in Linden Ponds would also enjoy the game.”
Bill approached management with the idea of adding an indoor pickleball court to the long list of community amenities.
Bill’s enjoyment and dedication to the game reflects a growing national trend. According to the USA Pickleball Association, pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America. With over 2.5 million players in the United States alone, participation in pickleball has increased by more than 21% between 2019 and 2020.
“Over the past few years, I have witnessed the growing popularity of pickleball,” says Bill. “I was excited about the opportunity to play on our own pitch at Linden Ponds. I also liked the idea of an indoor pitch, allowing us to play all year round in all weathers.”
With a renovation planned for Seasons Dining Hall at Linden Ponds, Bill knew he had found the perfect location. Last summer new flooring was carpeted for pickleball and low hanging lights were replaced with recessed lights. A removable net, paddles and balls were also purchased.
Then it was up to Bill to recruit pickleball players.
come and see
“I knew the best way to encourage people to try pickleball was to see the game in action,” says Bill. “I bought donuts and coffee and invited the community to watch several of us play in real time.”
Of the approximately 50 residents who came to watch, 35 people, aged 60 to 92, signed up to join the new group. Over the next several months, Bill patiently worked with each new pickleball player, no matter their experience or skill level.
Don Mistretta and Larry Dolinsky were two of the first Linden Ponds residents willing to join Bill in playing pickleball.
“The best part was learning a new game,” says Don. “I also love the physical demands, the competition between residents and the fact that residents are not just participating in physical activity, but laughing and having fun.”
Don and Larry now help Bill teach new players.
“I love helping people learn the game and then watching them have fun,” says Don. “My greatest joy is seeing residents improve their quality of play over time and the joy they feel while playing.”
“Teaching pickleball at Linden Ponds has resulted in a whole new dimension of social interaction and camaraderie as we continue to connect through a myriad of activities, both on and off campus,” says Larry. .
Something for everyone
The Linden Ponds Indoor Pickleball Court is a wonderful resource for sports enthusiasts year-round, whether it’s too hot or too cold to venture outside.
“Tennis will always be my preference,” says Judy Dozois. “But in the colder months when tennis isn’t really an option, pickleball is a great alternative.”
Judy, like her neighbors, also enjoys the social aspect that pickleball provides. “Pickleball is much more social than tennis,” she says.
“When four people are playing on our pitch, the rest of us like to chat and watch the game. Everyone gets a turn to play and socialize. It’s one more place to meet new people and make new friends. friends at Linden Ponds.”
“The social aspect of sport is obvious,” adds Larry. “Friendships develop in a short time. Those on the pitch – at all times – are recognized and often applauded for their good volleys and good shots.”
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