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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
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Pickleball on the rise at Taylor University

Newest intramural sport gains popularity

Pickleball intramurals give seasoned players and beginners a chance to participate in a sport that is growing in popularity.

In recent months, people all over have been talking a lot about pickleball. Families play on the weekends, and friends form teams to play matches with each other on a court. It was only a matter of time before interest piqued at Taylor.

During the fall semester, the Student Senate created a survey to assess the interest in bringing pickleball to Taylor, and the survey received a largely positive response, which inspired them to move forward with pickleball.

Once pickleball got approved, the intramural cabinet bought nets and equipment, and before long, leagues formed.

“I love playing pickleball,” freshman Luke Beukelman said. “I was a tennis player for my whole life, and they’re very similar games, so that’s what drew me in.”

Throughout the school year, there have been volleyball, basketball and soccer intramurals where students tend to take the games seriously. Since pickleball is new, the games have a much more relaxed structure. 

Rather than having a specific structure, matches are self-run. Team captains collaborate with other captains to choose their own schedule so they can figure out what time to play their games.

“We really wanted to open up the ability for captains to make their own schedule so that everyone can play no matter if they’re really busy from the hours 4 to 5,” Intramural President Jack Newcomer said.

The loose structure provides flexibility, so instead of having practices, there are just games people can feel free to participate in if they want, and there is no final tournament at the end either.

When tournaments do run, they go on for a week with first round games on Monday all the way to semifinals Thursday and Friday.

For the intramurals, there are three leagues: men’s, women’s and co-ed, and they pair up to play best of three games to 15 points. The leagues participate in two matches a week, which are more relaxed in nature.

The laid-back atmosphere creates an inviting space for students to enjoy a good game and good company. 

Games have only just gotten started, but pickleball is already a thriving success.

“I’d say the biggest highlight has been the student participation in it,” Newcomer said. “We have easily the most teams that we’ve ever had in an intramural season … that’s I think what I’m most interested in.”

During games, teams get to talk about life, and it offers a great way to release stress in between studying for tests or preparing presentations.

In addition to relieving stress, it provides another way for intentional community to form.

“It’ll help people not only build that community, but build the active community and will allow people to do things outside together,” senior Lauren Cina said.

Even though the semester might be busy, pickleball can provide a fun way for students to spend time with friends. Since the intramurals are unstructured, it offers a chance to bring in people who may not enjoy the competitive side of sports.

“Go out there with a group of friends and try it,” Newcomer said. “If you don’t have access to pickleball rackets or anything like that, they’re at Taylor. They can reach out to TSL (Taylor Student League) — we have some extra ones that we’d be willing to lend out. Also, they’re pretty cheap to get.”

With summer quickly approaching, pickleball intramurals are a great chance to create memories with friends before the semester is over.