Less than six months after being offered as an athletic activity through Dawson County’s Park and Recreation Department at Rock Creek Park the pickleball program announced that they were sending their first-ever team to the District 7 Regional Pickleball tournament Aug. 9 -11 in White County.
Featuring a range of experience, the 11-member team will compete in the men’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and women’s doubles categories over the course of the three-day tournament with the goal of advancing to the state tournament in Rabun County Sep. 13-15.
“We are excited to be able to send all of the participants that were interested in going,” Programs and Facilities Coordinator Buffie Hamil said. “Out of our 11 participants, we will have representation in all of the categories except the Women’s Singles. Our department and all involved are super excited to be sending participants this year and can’t wait to see where it takes this program!”
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States and is particularly popular amongst the 55 and older community. Played on a badminton sized court, with a bat that is a cross between a tennis racket and ping-pong paddle, the game is an amazing combination of low-impact workout and high-speed action.
Volunteer coach Celia Otwell signed up to coach a pickleball over two years ago, long before a pickleball program was considered by Dawson County, and started the program with the goal of fielding, at a minimum, a district level team.
“By the time the word got out last year it was too late for us to participate,” Otwell said. “I knew I wasn’t going to let us miss out on the chance to play this year. I started looking at people and where they lived, and I began asking if they wanted to play. That’s how it all came to about.”
As first-time participants in the District 7 tournament, the men’s doubles team of Jeff Olsen and Mitch Cohen looked forward to the challenge, honing their skills through a three-day a week practice regimen, but they held on to the uniquely fun aspect of the fast-growing sport.
“We drill a lot together,” Cohen said. “It re-enforces the shots we make, makes us better.”
“So far, we have found that if we score more points, we win,” Olsen said.