Here’s a chance to join a new sport

Back row from left, Kent Whipkey, Todd Sanderson, Bruce Park, David Sheppard, Cynthia Sheppard and Tom Ehrichs. Middle, Dave Johnson, Todd Dietrich, Libby Heinemann, Leslie Heinemann, Carol Tjarks, Carla Bruning, Connie Beyer-LaLonde and Richard Riley. Front, Florence Evans, Dar Kuhnel, Kristi S. Johnson, Lisa Sanderson and Kathy Jacobs. Not pictured: Donna Manzey, Richard Schneider, Lisa Dietrich, Deon Jensen, Ray and Linda Bach, Ron Gourneau, Kris Johnson, Dave and Jeanine Flatten, and Gary and Judy Hobbie.

I’m exercising with a smile on my face.  I’m working out, sweat is dripping, and I am laughing. Could these statements possibly be true?  They are if you are playing a game of pickleball. The sport, especially popular with seniors, gives both the mind and body a good workout, with fellowship and laughter a big part of the equation.
Over 30 people in the Moody County area have found the fun of this unique sport called pickleball. The group plays each Thursday morning at the armory in Flandreau from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. With three nets set up each week, players form teams of four to play doubles and get in a good workout.
David and Cynthia Sheppard learned about the game at Robson Ranch near Denton, TX in January of 2012. While leaving the gym one day, they heard a unique pinging sound. When they went to explore, they saw people playing a game they had never seen before. They learned the name was pickleball, and lessons would be given that week. The two took lessons, loved the game, and purchased paddles the following week.
Returning home, they couldn’t wait to continue honing their skills in this fun sport, but found no one offered the game. Disappointed, the Sheppards let it go. But that fall the city of Sioux Falls offered a community center for daytime play of the game.
After gaining new players each week, the Sioux Falls Pickleball Club was born, and after having about 50 members the first year, the group now has over 350 members from all around the Sioux Empire. The Sheppards were excited about the game and talked of it often. People in the Flandreau area began to have questions about it and asked about having lessons locally.
Last February the Sheppards secured the armory for one morning a week and offered pickleball lessons. Over a dozen people showed up the first week, and people have continued to come to learn the fun sport. There have been over 30 individuals who have learned and played the game here in Flandreau.
Pickleball was invented by three dads on Bainbridge Island, WA, just a short distance from Seattle. Their children were bored during the summer, and they came up with ping pong paddles hitting a perforated plastic ball over a net outdoors. Rules were refined as they played. The name of the game came from a pup named Pickles, who loved to chase the ball wherever it went. The name stuck and in 1984 the United States Pickleball Association (USAPA) was formed. By 1990 the game was being played in all 50 states and in 2008 the sport became part of the National Senior Games.
The game offers a good cardio workout, teamwork, hand-eye coordination, and mental sharpness in keeping track of scores and servers. An added benefit is the laughter that ensues and meeting new people that you soon call friends.
The group is always eager to welcome newcomers and introduce them to the game. Join them Thursday mornings. Any questions can be answered by calling the Sheppards at 997-3595.
See you this Thursday!


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