CLARKSBURG — Even a summer heat wave couldn’t keep pickleball players off the newly renovated courts at Veterans Memorial Park in Clarksburg. [Watch Video]
The unique sport (described as a fusion of badminton, tennis and table tennis played with a whiffle-style ball) has gained quite a bit of momentum among North Central West Virginia residents as it continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in the nation.
Over 3 million people have already taken up the sport across America, and new courts are constantly being built to accommodate the influx of interest.
Clarksburg Parks and Recreation Superintendent John Cooper said officials saw plenty of reason to keep up with the trend.
“Pickleball is extremely popular in our area,” Cooper said. “We try to fund and do things to serve the most people, so this is obviously a very worthwhile project for us to invest in and to serve the community.” The Morgantown Pickleball Club, comprising members from Morgantown, Fairmont and Clarksburg, hit the courts Friday for their second open-court day since renovations were completed. “It is a great sport that is sweeping America,” said Angela Oliverio, Morgantown Pickleball Club ambassador. “It’s great for all ages, and even elderly people are playing. It is not unusual to hear about a 90-year-old playing it.” Even on one of the hottest days of the year, people from all over came out to enjoy a few rounds. Peter Schumacher of Ritchie County said he drives nearly an hour every week just to spend time playing the sport. “It is just a game that has good aerobics, it is just a lot of fun and really social,” Schumacher said. “It is just so much fun.” The key to making the sport accessible to all is the ability to make the sport as intensive as the player would like. Oliverio said the sport can be a leisurely activity, or can be played competitively. “It is a lot of exercise, but you don’t have to be athletic,” said Rick Shaw, Morgantown Pickleball Club ambassador. “You don’t have to be in condition, you don’t have to be anything to play and enjoy it.” The sport is fun and beneficial for people of all ages. Trenton Shaw, a sophomore biomedical student at West Virginia University, said he got involved in the club because his aunt, Linda Shaw, and uncle, Rick, encouraged him to try it out.
“My aunt and uncle were into it long before I was, so they talked me into doing it and it sounded fun, so I just started coming down on my own,” Trenton Shaw said. Linda Shaw said she has been a club member since 2015, and even recently took home a silver medal during the Country Roads PickleBall Classic this year. She said Pickleball has been an outlet for her to be a part of a wonderful group of people and to easily pick up a new activity. “I showed up at a court and started playing, and haven’t stopped ever since,” she said. “Just come out with an open attitude. You will be able to play the first day you come, you will be able to have a game, and you will get out there and hit the ball.” Thanks to the sport’s inclusivity, people of all ages and athletic abilities are welcome to attend the club’s open-court days on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon at the Veterans Memorial Park. Non-members are welcome to attend as well. Oliverio said the club is always looking for new members, and anyone interested is encouraged to call 304-476-2595 or visit MorgantownPickleball.com