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A Peck of Pamlico Pickleball Players
New Sport, New Gym at Camp Caroline
February 20, 2017
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In 1976, the same year that Tennis magazine published a story describing pickleball as America’s newest racquet sport, the first known pickleball tournament in the world was held at South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, Washington. More than a few of the players were college tennis players who knew very little about pickleball. They practiced with large wood paddles and a softball sized whiffle ball.


The gymnasium in the new Jack and Gladys Lee Building can accommodate three pickleball games at once. Here, Steve Polk and Susan Dillard play in the first court.“God help us,” Dillard laughs, “if Venus and Serena Williams take up the sport.”

By 1984, USAPA formed and the first rule book published in March of that year. A Boeing industrial engineer transformed the fiberglass/nomex honeycomb panels used as part of an airplane’s structural system to create the first composite paddle.

Pickleball blur.

In 2001, pickleball was introduced for the first time in the Arizona Senior Olympics. 100 played, making it was the largest pickleball event ever played to that point. There are now 12,668 public places in the United States designated as pickleball courts. Over 200,000 people are playing the game with an odd name.

PIckleball has put Camp Caroline’s new gym on the map. On this map of established pickleball courts, there is a pin for The Jack & Gladys Lee Building .

About which. “The Pritchards had a dog named Pickles,” Barney McCallum recalled. “You’re having fun at a party, right? So anyways, what the hell, let’s just call it pickleball.”

Local players see intercollegiate and Olympic competition on the horizon, though the game is good exercise and fun for any age from middle school to octogenarians.

Dick Lam.

The enthusiasm of the game’s players in Pamlico County is matched by that of Casey Perry, manager of the Camp Caroline gym. “We couldn’t be more proud,” he says, “that the Jack and Gladys Lee Building here at Camp Caroline has become a hub for pickleball in Pamlico County.

Jack & Gladys Lee of Arapahoe made the new facility possible.

“Most everyone who comes to play is discovering so much that Camp Caroline can offer,” Perry says. “I hear regularly, ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea that Camp Caroline had so many great facilities.’ I love to give tours around the camp.”

more fun
Light-hearted competition.

He credits the philanthropy of Jack and Gladys Lee of Arapahoe as well as the entire Region of the North Carolina Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which owns and operates Camp Caroline. “This demonstrates our commitment to continue growing all kinds of ways we can reach out to our surrounding communities and be a partner and ally to people in the county.”

Casey Perry.

“I want county residents to dream with me on ways the camp can create initiatives to support their interests. I’m honored to be able to promote ways the camp stimulates healthy living in Pamlico County.”

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Posted Monday February 20, 2017 by Melinda Penkava

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