January 4, 2009

Chicago Discovers Pickleball

Chicago Discovers Pickleball - by Dick Manasseri

Thousands of families in Chicago now know what Pickleball is because one man, his family and a few dedicated volunteers brought Pickleball to Chicago’s largest venue as part of the Mayor Daley’s Holiday Sports Fest which attracted over 80,000 people.

USA Pickleball Association Ambassador Joe Balagot found a way to get Pickleball included in the Sports Fest, invited Doug Smith from Pickleball, Inc to provide equipment and contacted a small but effective group of volunteers to keep things going for 3 days over the holidays.

Joe reported, “Pickleball went over BIG with everyone who came by and got to try it for a few minutes. I had three families that came back all three days just to play for a few minutes. I’ve received requests for demonstrations beginning next month.”

“I had people from 3yrs. old to 60+ who had a blast playing even if it was only for a few minutes. I had lines for hours straight and letting folks play doubles in 5 minute increments non-stop. It was actually fun to watch all these kids trying to keep the ball in play and putting in 100% effort”.

The Sport Fest organizers have invited Joe to come back next year with even more courts in action to handle the enthusiastic crowds.

This year, Joe delivered a Herculean performance by manning the Pickleball courts for three days with helpful collaboration from his wife, Barbara, his daughter Tricia Morandi, and his granddaughters Emma and Ruby. Fred Fry, Ambassador from Madison, Wisconsin, and his wife Kaia Fry pitched in plus Craig and Diana Glasson from Arizona, Craig’s son Steve from Glen Ellyn IL, Steve Glasson’s daughters Jessica and Samantha. Pat Nolan from Berwyn IL and his Friend Tom Lieving from Glen Ellyn IL rounded out the dedicated band of volunteers.

It’s not too early to mark your calendars for Mayor Daley’s Holiday Sports Fest 2009 planned for late December. Think about joining Joe and his holiday Pickleball players in Chicago!