For the past two years, the South Boston Recreation Department has hosted year-round pickleball games, a paddleball sport that combines the elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis.
The new sport was created by South Boston recreation director Matthew McCargo.
âIt came to my attention that the seniors in South Boston wanted a pickleball field, so they didn’t have to travel to Roxboro, NC to play,â said McCargo. “Robin Benzel contacted me and asked me what I thought about pickleball, and I didn’t know much about it at the time and told her I would call her back after doing some research.”
After doing some research, McCargo made the decision to start a local pickleball field.
âRight now we can only use the field for pickleball on Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well as Wednesday afternoons because the gym is full every other time,â said McCargo.
He added: “Seniors seem to like it, but it’s the fact that it’s a sport for all ages.”
The recreation department is taking security measures due to COVID-19, such as providing hand sanitizer, asking participants to bring their own paddles and recommending social distancing.
Steve Meadows oversees pickleball practice and started playing in Roxboro, NC three summers ago. He was one of the leaders who pushed to bring the games to South Boston.
âWe have had up to 20 people who have played, since the pandemic that number has dropped to around 10-12 people,â said his wife, Jackie Meadows.
She added: “This is something that older people can do, but it is a game for all ages, for me personally I feel better, it decreases my stress and I have done yoga and d ‘other things, but nothing brings me that same level of joy. “
Pickleball is typically an 11-point game, but the South Boston Recreation Department plays seven-a-side games so everyone who comes out will have a chance to play and compete.
âThey made an outside field for us on Vaughn Street, but it’s really hard to play pickleball with the wind as we’re practically using a whistling ball,â Meadows said.
Pickleball participant Wanda McDowell has been involved in the sport for two years in South Boston and plans to continue doing so.
âIt’s really a sport of the future, the surrounding counties have pickleball and we just want to make it work here. It’s a game for all ages, we’ve had kids from the age of 5 who came out and people who came out and played who are 89, âMcDowell said.
She added, âWe’re all competitive and it’s really easy to get addicted to the sport. It really is an emotional release for my health for my health and I would say that physically, emotionally and mentally I just feel better.
The goal of pickleball participants is to bring more youth and recognition to the game.
âWe brought a bunch of kids here on a Wednesday night 8-15 and they really enjoyed it, it’s really a game for all ages,â McDowell said.
The pickleball players’ next goal is to bring a league to Halifax County and hope to do so next year.
âYou see, the good thing about pickleball is that it’s even in the pandemic that we were able to play, it’s a non-contact sport, and we can distance ourselves socially,â McDowell concluded.
For anyone interested in the game of pickleball, the South Boston Recreation Department hosts games on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:30 am to noon and Wednesday evenings from 6 pm to 8 pm.