Westmoreland County YMCA pickleball fans have more opportunities to play

Pickleball – the game that is both tennis and ping pong – is growing in popularity in the region and gaining notoriety in Westmoreland County.

Two local YMCAs, in downtown Greensburg and in the Mt. Pleasant area, have expanded their pickleball offerings.

The Greensburg YMCA is reintroducing pickleball playtime, starting with two indoor courts in the gymnasium. Weekly pick-up games will be available from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays, starting October 20.

Pickleball programming will begin with an instructional clinic at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The game is “a cousin of table tennis. It’s like playing ping pong, but you’re standing on the table,” said Scott Brown, director of athletics and wellness at the Greensburg Y.

Some of the main differences between pickleball and tennis are the use of Wiffle-type paddles and balls and a smaller court that includes a non-volley “kitchen” area extending 7 feet on either side of the net.

Pickleball play began at the Greensburg Y in 2019 but was halted by the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. It has since been reinstated before being temporarily sidelined this summer to make way for a basketball league.

Brown sees the possibility of expanding the pickleball offering at the Greensburg site.

“I think there’s potential to involve a ton of people,” he said. “Our goal is not just to promote the sport, but to enable our members and non-members to compete, learn to play the sport, and enjoy the camaraderie and sense of community that our Y offers. Additionally, we want to expose the sport to players of all ages, and even present it as a family activity.

Located in East Huntingdon, near Mt. Pleasant, the Laurel Highlands YMCA has doubled its capacity for players. It has developed three outdoor courts, joining the same number of indoor courts.

Outdoor courts are available during the day, weather permitting.

“We’ve been offering dedicated hearing time in our gymnasium for about eight years, but it’s been limited to mornings,” said Steve Simon, CEO of the Laurel Highlands Y. “Because of this, we were primarily receiving retirees. By having the outdoor courts, we hope to attract a much larger group of players.

“Over the years, the number of players has steadily increased. Over several days, we will have 24 players in the morning.

He said the Laurel Highlands Y is looking to add indoor pickleball playing time two nights a week.

Greensburg’s Jacob DePalm is happy to see the addition of local pickleball courts. Along with fellow pickleball enthusiast Mike Stewart of Penn Township, he will lead the upcoming clinic at the Greensburg Y.

DePalm never realized his desire to play tennis, but a friend involved in the sport introduced him to pickleball about three years ago.

“It’s really easy to figure out,” DePalm said. “I started getting good pretty quickly.

“It’s great for exercising and socializing. It makes it easy for adults and children of all ages to find each other. I met a whole community of people; we network, we meet and we play.

DePalm’s pickleball network has grown to around 50 people, with some members meeting for games at venues including the Hempfield Township Athletic Complex, Legion Keener Park in Latrobe and Boyce Park in Monroeville.

“It’s important that we have the YMCA available to play in the evenings,” he said. “In winter, it is difficult to find indoor courts.”

Stewart was introduced to pickleball while wintering in Florida in 2020.

Anyone can get involved in pickleball,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a great athlete.

It’s not an over workout, but you can still rack up a good sweat.

“You can play it at all levels,” he added. “The more you play, the better you become.”

Pre-registration is not required to play pickleball at the two local Ys. Participation is free for Y members while non-members must pay a fee. The cost is $5 at the Greensburg Y; a guest pass to the Laurel Highlands Y is $10 for adults, $5 for those 18 or younger or 62 or older.

For more information, contact Brown at 724-834-0150, ext. 113, or the Laurel Highlands Y at 724-547-9622.

Jeff Himler is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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