Riderwood Pickleball Group Receives International Spotlight
Silver Spring, Maryland–According to the USA Pickleball Association, more than 2.4 million people participate in the paddle sport that combines elements of tennis and badminton.
With its flexibility as an indoor or outdoor game, relatively inexpensive equipment and easily modified rules, pickleball has caught on across the generational spectrum since its creation in 1965.
That popularity extends to Riderwood, the Erickson Living retirement community in Silver Spring.
Formed in 2007, the resident-led Pickleball Group meets three times per week to play. The co-ed group utilizes a modified indoor court found in a multi-purpose Wellness Studio for its matches, which mainly consist of doubles.
Jack McEleney, a resident of Riderwood since May 2005, serves as the group’s leader.
“Pickleball is a great form of exercise and a healthy way to compete,” said Mr. McEleney. “But just as important, it’s a fun social activity. Our twenty or so active players come from diverse backgrounds, and the sport has brought us together as friends, and in one case, husband and wife. Yes, we’ve actually had a couple walk down the aisle as a result of meeting at pickleball.”
The game has not only grown at Riderwood and across the United States, but internationally as well. On January 14, residents learned of that interest first-hand as the Finnish Broadcasting Company (abbreviated YLE in Finland) filmed a pickleball session at Riderwood. YLE, the public broadcasting network in Finland founded in 1926, is broadcasting a periodic series about unique sports played throughout the world.
Mrs. Pirkko Pontinen, a YLE correspondent assigned to cover American politics, interviewed three residents including one playing pickleball for the very first time.
The next evening…and 4,300 miles away…the report aired during a prime time newscast of YLE.
“It is very exciting for us to know that we might, in some small way, inspire people in Finland to learn the game,” said Mr. McEleney.