Pickleball offers fun athletics for Craig residents
Folks of all ages in Craig are ready to play ball! Pickleball, that is.
Co-sponsored by Craig Parks & Recreation and the Senior Social Center, the pickleball group has been meeting for a few friendly games from 8 to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, as well as from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for those who work during the day.
The official pickleball website says that the game was created to be fun and easy to play at all ages. It is traditionally played on a badminton-sized court with special paddles that are made of wood or composite. The ball used to play is similar to a wiffleball but slightly smaller.
The lower net and low-impact ball allow the game to be accessible to people of all ages and abilities while still allowing more competitive players to test their skills.
Sue Eschen is responsible for getting the group together.
“I used to be a competitive racquetball player, but racquetball just isn’t as popular anymore. I have a lot of friends outside of Craig who told me that I needed to try pickleball. I love racquet sports so I tried it. A couple of benefits are that it’s great for seniors to stay quick, and it’s also a great way to make new friends in the community,” Eschen said.
According to a presentation on pickleball at an Aug. 15 Senior Social Center board meeting, more than 60 people in Craig have now tried it.
In that same presentation, it was mentioned that the pickleball group has also assisted the Senior Social Center with some of its activities, including the Friday Fest in July.
Jim Mense, of Meeker, comes to Craig weekly to play the sport. Mense said that he became interested when he saw a listing for it through Eastern Rio Blanco Parks and Recreation, but it appeared to him to be primarily for seniors, as it was available one hour per week between 1 and 2 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Mense said that it took him about a year to finally go play but once he did, he loved it. However, just one hour a week didn’t seem like enough to Mense so he started lobbying with the Eastern Rio Blanco Parks and Recreation to make the game available in the evenings as well so that more people could play, but it didn’t work out.
He began looking online for other places to play and that’s when he found that Craig has a pickleball group. He’s been coming to Craig to play on Mondays and Fridays since then.
Mense, who has been playing the sport for five months, entered first a tournament on Sept. 19 in Grand Junction.
Tammie Frawley also plays weekly in Craig.
“It keeps me in shape. It’s amazing what a workout you get. It works your whole body and you get cardio but you don’t get sore from it,” Frawley said. “I really enjoy it. In fact, if I’m in a bad mood, I just say ‘pickleball’ three times really fast and it changes my whole day.”
The pickleball group is focused on bringing in more members of all ages.
“The sport isn’t just for seniors — anyone can play,” Eschen said.
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