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A Peck of Pamlico Pickleball Players
New Sport, New Gym at Camp Caroline
February 20, 2017

Pickleball got its Pamlico County start out doors, but over the past year the place to see the sport has been onss courts a few miles southwest of Oriental on Dawson’s Creek. The gym inside the brand new Jack & Gladys Lee Building at Camp Caroline opened just over ago and looking to be a place for community activities. Several of the pickleball players – Deb Bryant, Cecily Lohmar, Susan Dillard – met with the camp’s manager, Casey Perry.

Casey Perry, Camp Caroline’s director, on the pickle ball court at the new gym at the camp.

He was able to use a community outreach grant from The Bate Foundation set up “to nurture all of the residents of Pamlico County.” Casey Perry ordered nets, balls and paddles, and made 3 Camp Caroline courts available to the public 5 days a week for a small fee. This February the pickleball enthusiasts – celebrated one year of playing at Camp Caroline.

This g ymnasium is one of the features of the Jack & Gladys Lee Building, the brand new facility at Camp Caroline on Dawson’s Creek.

In the summer months when Camp Caroline has campers, play is limited to Sunday. Volunteers from Oriental are responsible for staffing and organizing community play. New players are welcome; no equipment is needed other than tennis shoes. Paddles and balls are in ample supply at the gym.

A peck of pickleballs.

Fair to say, pickleball has arrived in Pamlico County. But where did in come from? How did it arrive? And what’s with the name? Turns out, the name has to do with a dog who lived more than half a century ago in the Pacific Northwest.

Pickleball play in action.

According to the USA Pickleball Association website, USAPA.org, two friends, Joel Pritchard,a congressman from Washington State, and Bill Bell, were at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island near Seattle and found their families sitting around with nothing to do. There was an old badminton court on the property, so Pritchard and Bell looked for badminton equipment to get their families into a physical activity. But they could not find a full set of rackets. Nor a birdie. So, they improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.

Lee Duer
Lee Duer, a self-described “full-fledged pickleball fanatic” left with Casey Perry. Duer says she loves pickleball for a number of reasons: “for the aerobic exercise, the mental challenge, the hand-eye coordination challenge, and in large part for the camaraderie.”

The game took on tones of ping pong on a hard tennis court. In time, a third friend, Barney McCallum, joined Prtchard and Bell in drawing up rules, drawing heavily from badminton, and with a focus on keeping it a game the whole family could play. Fifty years ago, in 1967, the first permanent pickleball court was constructed in the backyard of Joel Pritchard’s friend and neighbor, Bob O’Brian. By 1972, a corporation had been formed to protect the creation of this new sport.

Deborah Bryant who set up the county’s first pickleball court in her driveway, playing at the county’s current nexus for pickleball – the Lee Building gym at Camp Caroline.

Posted Monday February 20, 2017 by Melinda Penkava

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