Dean Guyer

I first learned of the sport in one of those ultra fun "blow-off" classes in high school circa 2005. It was called Advanced Team Sports. And you guessed it, we played and learned about several sports. One happened to be Pickleball, but when I compare it to what we play today, it seemed like a very different sport. Little did I know, a future me would consider the sport a necessity and lifeline. To avoid writing a novella, I will just say that this activity is far more than what comes to the imaginations of those who have yet to really play. I mean play properly. That's because everyone enjoys this sport if introduced correctly. And I was. With embracing community and kindness. Now, it serves as the common factor bridging swaths of relationships, connecting  vast social networks, igniting businesses, inspriing recreators and competitors, and many more as we see it continue to pique the interests of new players.
It had that reputation because there was no homework - awesome - and everyone got a quick rundown and some gameplay for about 14 sports. The equipment we used would be laughable out here in pickleball country: heavy wooden paddles with about 75 dime sized holes, maybe for beach tennis or something else. So it was a few high school kids playing on a gym floor, and I'm pretty sure the rules were made up for us at the time. Needless to say, my teammate and I won everything by a landslide.
Fast forward twelve years and I've made a big life change moving out West to Bend, Oregon. I knew this was going to be a very important decision in my life, but I didn't know how life-changing it would be too. I rediscovered Pickleball which seemed as fresh as the move despite having played a handful of times. The air of the sport here is different. And if it were not for some very welcoming local players who knows how long it would have taken to get a proper introduction to the competition. Amidst an unforgettable community of die-hard players, I've been grateful to have something as unifying, thrilling, social, and competitive. This sport hit so many needs I didn't even know I had until I found out I can't live without it. Everyday playing I see an old friend or meet someone new who will likely be playing the sport until they can no longer walk. Most of them feel like I do, and for many, the sport came at a particular time in life when something about life seemed bleak and Pickleball somehow resolved untenable unmet needs. The idea of regular exhilarating exercise in adulthood was all but deteriorating. How would an athlete play fast sports well into their 40s 50s 60s 70s and even 80s? And to see so many competing in these age brackets knowing I could do that too oneday if I'm even more lucky - that's real hope right there.