Photo: Gary Beaudoin
Walking away from a conversation with Ruth Beier, one thing is certainly clear: the East Lansing City Council Representative loves Pickleball. But many might be left wondering, what Pickleball is.
Just a few months ago, Beier had yet to discover her passion for the sport.
“I had heard of it, but I was a tennis player so I didn’t take it seriously.”
While on a jog one morning last May, Beier passed a tennis court occupied by senior citizens wielding wooden paddles and decided to give Pickleball more serious consideration.
She’s been hooked ever since.
Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court, and players use wooden paddles to volley wiffle balls back and forth. The ball must bounce on the court before a player makes contact, making the game slightly easier, and therefore more accessible for players of all ages.
Gary Beaudoin, East Lansing’s Pickleball organizer, said the game is popular among the City’s senior citizen population.
“It’s a social game, so it’s good for older people who want to sit around and talk,” he said. “It’s helped me stay real active. I can get 10,000 steps if I play in the morning.”
Pickleball isn’t a strenuous sport, which adds to the appeal for older generations.
“It’s not a great workout, but when you get to be 60, you can’t have a jarring workout,” Beier said. “It’s like going for a brisk walk.”
Beier and Beaudoin believe Pickleball will become popular among younger generations, as well.
The pair are working to bring the sport to East Lansing before-and-after care programs.
“Gary and I want to introduce [Pickleball] to kids because it’s easy, but once you play it, you’re hooked,” Beier said. “It’s cheap, it’s easy and kids really like it.”
East Lansing residents, young and old, interested in picking up the sport, are welcome to join Beier and Beaudoin. Pickleball will be outdoors at Patriarche Park until the end of September on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9am to 11am Friday from 5:30pm to about 8pm (or when it gets dark).
On October 1st Pickleball move into the Hannah Community Center and will have the same Tiesday, Thursday and Friday times and add a Monday and Wednesday afternoon from 12pm to 3pm. Pickleball at the Community Center is free for gym members; others pay a small fee on a drop-in basis.
Summer might be on its way out of East Lansing, but Pickleball is here to stay.