Pickleball Fever Hits the J

December 12, 2016

Pickleball Fever Hits the J

J is Training Grounds for Sr. Olympic Pickleball Champion

Not every member of the J knows that the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC is home to a vibrant Pickleball community. Few know, as well, that in Dr. Andrew Purcell, we actually have a Senior Olympic Pickleball Champion in our midst.

Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and is extremely popular among seniors. Invented in the 1960’s in Washington State, Pickleball is a racquet sport, like badmitton, tennis, and ping pong.

You can play doubles or singles using short wood or composite paddles to hit a perforated polymer ball that looks and feels a lot like a wiffle ball.  The size of the court is roughly the size of a badmitton court; the net and the rules are similar to tennis.

Dr. Purcell has been a JCC member for 5 years and has been playing Pickleball here since 2013. 

This Summer of 2016, Dr. Purcell competed in the Senior Olympics in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Indiana in the singles, men’s doubles and mixed double categories and, all told, took home five Gold medals, two Silver, and one Bronze. 

Next up on Dr. Purcell’s calendar –  June 17, 2017 – the National Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Purcell loves his Pickleball. He plays six days a week and also serves as a huge advocate for the sport here at the J. 

I enjoy teaching new players about the game and sportsmanship. It’s a great way to get out and be social.

“We have a Pickleball community,” he says.  “I enjoy teaching new players about the game and sportsmanship. It’s a great way to get out and be social.  You get a little cardio exercise going back and forth and the movement is great for seniors to engage in. It can keep you healthy, keep you in shape. It also let’s me see how my friends and fellow members are doing.” 

Dr. Purcell used to practice medicine as a pathologist.  He now spends summers based in Baltimore among family and winters in Hawaii or Florida, playing Pickleball wherever he goes.

Pickleball, according to Wikipedia, started during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the home of former State Representative Joel Pritchard. He and a couple of buddies returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They attempted to set up badminton, but no one could find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a Wiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.

“A lot of the people who play have back or joint pain,” Dr. Purcell says. “But you can play doubles and still get a workout. There’s sound, motion, light, a fluorescent yellow ball – and it’s a great way to get you moving and into shape.”

For those who want to join Dr. Purcell and give Pickleball a shot, the J offers Drop-In Pickleball at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from 8:30am-11:00am in the Glazer Wood Gym. It is free to members and $50 a season for guests.

For more information on Pickleball at the J, please contact Rebecca Chinsky, rchinsky@jcc.org, 410.559.3542 or visit www.jcc.org/leagues

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