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April 18, 2024

Pickleball proponents speak at meeting

PICKLEBALL PROPONENTS SPEAK AT COMMISSION MEETING — A group of pickleball aficionados spoke at the County Commissioners’ meeting on Monday, Jan. 8, including a National champion, Loretta Savary, whose daughter lives in Taylorsville. Pictured above, left to right: Loretta Savary, of Florida, and daughter, Kristeen Howard, with son Colt Bivins, and friends Debbie Childers and Craig Childers, all of Taylorsville.

 

Pickleball, anyone? Champion offers services to help establish sport in Alexander County

By MICAH HENRY

If you haven’t heard of pickleball, you might be in the minority soon. It’s the fastest growing sport in the country, according to several sources. And pickleball champion Loretta Savary hopes to help bring the fun sport to Taylorsville soon.

Savary, who lived previously in Lenoir and now calls Florida home, helped set up a program in several area counties, including Caldwell. Her daughter, Kristeen Howard, and grandchildren live in Taylorsville. Savary and Taylorsville resident Craig Childers spoke about pickleball during Monday’s Alexander County Board of Commissioners meeting (Jan. 8, 2024) during the public comment segment. Both said they hope indoor or outdoor facilities can be obtained to allow pickleball play in this area.

Commissioner Josh Lail noted that pickleball courts will be part of the new Bethlehem Park upgrades now underway.

Both Savary and Childers expressed a hope that other venues can have pickleball courts in the county as well.

Savary describes the sport as a mix of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. It typically allows a player to get 10,000 steps in a game, which is a common activity goal for adults. Pickleball began in the 1960s in Washington State. The sport gained momentum in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1984, it was officially recognized as a sport by the U.S. Amateur Sports Act. Anyone, from child to senior adult, can play, and the game has easy-to-learn rules, Savary said.

Childers said he and his wife, Debbie, were introduced to the game during a recent trip to Oak Island. Just a few days ago, Childers was discussing pickleball with a staff member at the Alexander County YMCA when he was told Savary, a national pickleball champion, was there at the time. He was able to meet Savary and the two talked about their common interest in pickleball. Childers hopes areas such as Jaycee Park, East Taylorsville Baptist Church, Sugar Loaf School, Salem Park, or others can have pickleball courts.

Savary expressed that key benefits of pickleball include: improved physical health, better mental well-being, greater social connections, enhanced family relationships, and increased cultural understanding as the game brings people from all backgrounds together to play.

Savary was a USA Pickleball Association Ambassador for several years and traveled widely in support of the sport. She helped start pickleball programs at Beech Mountain, Morganton, Lenoir, Valdese, Hickory, and Rock Barn.

“It brings people together,” Savary said. “You cannot play this game without laughing. You can play at any level.”

When she and her late husband traveled in an RV, Savary always wanted to stop at places that had pickleball courts, after she learned the game at an RV resort in Arizona. This led to Savary competing and, in 2016, winning 1st Place Masters in Greensboro, NC, Gold in Women’s Doubles, and Gold in Mixed Doubles. In 2017, she won Gold in Women’s Doubles at the Nationals in Casa Grande, AZ, and followed up with Gold in Mixed Doubles in Naples, FL, in 2018.

Four pickleball courts can be placed in the area of one tennis court. Some areas allow for painter’s tape to be put on tennis courts for temporary use as pickleball courts, Savary explained.

Although Savary is in Taylorsville for a short time visiting her family, she said she will be willing to journey here to help teach the sport when facilities are available.

For more information on how to play the sport, visit picklepongdeb.com, the website of Savary’s friend Deb Harrison, or visit usapickleball.org for the official rules.

1 Comment

  1. Roger Staten on February 21, 2024 at 9:17 pm

    As a follow up to your story, we have established an Alexander NC Pickleball League Facebook Page. We are in our third week of Thursday evening play times. We have increased from four players to over a dozen players and an FB group that is nearing 40 members.
    We are actively seeking locations that can support play until Bethlehem construction is completed. Our ultimate goal is to have play areas in each county community/town. We hope to provide you with periodic updates on the progress of Pickleball in our county. Thank you for your attention.

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