The gym is open weekday mornings (and sometimes during the weekend) for pickleball at First Baptist Church in Brooklyn, and people are coming to play.
Players often meet at the net after a game and tap paddles as a sign of friendship and good sportsmanship.
By Matt Schepeler
Are you looking for a way to make new friends while getting a fun workout?
If so, you might want to check out the pickleball scene at First Baptist Church in Brooklyn. The gym has been open to pickleball players throughout the pandemic, and, with three courts often set up, people are finding their way there.
“We play Monday through Friday from 9-11 (a.m.), said Pat Kelley, a regular. Everyone in the community is invited. Players do not need to belong to or attend the church, and there is only a small fee to play. For those who do not have the equipment and want to try the sport out, Kelley said they have some extra paddles on hand for use.
The group has been active for years. When COVID hit, they moved to the church, which has made an effort to reach out to the community. “This is the only location we have in Brooklyn right now,” said Kelley. “We do play outside at Columbia Central High School on the tennis courts in the summertime, but not during the high school tennis season.” (more below)
People who attend clearly enjoy having a place to play.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them,” said Karen Schaefer, a regular player who said she didn’t want to drive to Adrian to play. “This has really helped me get through COVID.”
The reason Schaefer and others love the sport is simple: People need to socialize, and getting a little exercise is also good for them. In fact, the popularity of Pickleball – which might be described as a combination of ping-pong, tennis and badminton – has been gaining momentum for years. Fun, social and friendly, the rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.
Kelley said they would like to attract more people to play. ”Almost any age can participate – it’s a great sport for older people. We get people in their teens (occasionally); we have an 82-year-old woman that plays with us as well. Most of us are in our 50s to 70s,” she said adding that the sport “improves balance, concentration and flexibility.”
Kelley said that the competition is always friendly, and it is a great place to connect. “We all know and care about each other,” she said.
To learn more, stop by the gym any weekday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. Players must wear tennis shoes on the basketball court, but otherwise, dress in sweats or workout clothes.
First Baptist Church is located at 402 S. Mill Street in Brooklyn, about a half-mile east of the Post Office.