Three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday members of the Grand Lake Family YMCA Pickleball team meet at the Grove Community Center to practice.
Pickleball, a cross between badminton, tennis, and table tennis, is currently referred to as the fastest growing sport in America, according to team member Randy Oldham.
Usually between 12 to 16 people meet at the community center, with attendance fluctuating, based on the weather and people’s retirement patterns.
Oldham has played Pickleball for five years now when it took place at Grace Harbor Baptist Church in Grove.
The games moved to the community center two years ago. The average age of participants ranging from 55 to as mature as 84.
The practice is mostly attended by retired individuals or those with jobs that allow them to attend the early afternoon practice times.
The event is sponsored by the Grand Lake Family YMCA, which means it is free to those individuals with a membership, and a small fee for those without a membership.
“I used to play a lot of racquetball with my brother while other folks played tennis,” said Oldham. “It’s not as demanding as tennis or racquetball, and it’s easy to learn but some people get confused by the scoring at first.
“People that have played Racquet sports typically pick it up quickly."
Oldham said YMCA officials, as well as YouTube, have sources for those wanting to learn the sport.
Any level of fitness can join the group, as it's a reactions and short running game with singles having more movement.
The group always plays doubles and will typically play round robin style so everyone in attendance can have a turn.
Some of the members travel and compete in tournaments in Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Rogers, Arkansas.
Oldham said some games come with medals for the events, but winners always get bragging rights.
They group brings with them various equipment from the YMCA to get started.
“Some of us have a couple [racquets] to loan out so people can get a feel of the different types," Oldham said. "The price is typically under $50 for most paddles."
The game isn’t solely an inside sport but due to the typical high winds in Oklahoma YMCA officials chose to have the games indoors.
“We want people to come join us to learn the sport and exercise,” sail Oldham.
The Grove Community Center is located at 104 West Third, Grove. The Grand Lake Family YMCA is located at 206 Elk Street, Grove. Hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m., on Sunday.
For more information, persons interested may call 918-786-5774, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://grandlakefamilyymca.org.