P.E. Teacher Laura Mahn Says It was her “field of dreams.”
Laura Mahn, physical education teacher at Avalon Elementary School in East Naples, gets excited about the game of pickleball, not just because she loves sports and pickleball is fun, but because it brings people together.
“I learned pickleball about 20 years ago,” says Laura. “I have been a P.E. teacher for K-12 for 30 years. When I relocated to Naples I rediscovered the game. And when I heard about Pickleball For All, it was my ‘field of dreams.’”
When Jim Ludwig introduced pickleball to Avalon Elementary, a Title I school, it opened up a whole new social aspect for the kids, their parents and the teachers as well.
“The game equalizes the playing field for everyone,” she explains. “People of all skill levels can play. People of all cultures can play. There is no age discrepancy; an 8-year old can play a 60-year old. Unlike soccer, which requires eight or ten people to play, pickleball only requires two or four people. And the game even equalizes genders: boys and girls can play each other.
Pickleball also offers an opportunity for exercise and socialization for children and adults with handicaps.
“We had a child who was born without legs who played,” says Laura. “Collier County got him a sports wheelchair that can move sideways as well as forward and backward. You should have seen the look in his eyes when he played.
“Imagine parents at Pelican Marsh who might have a child with downs syndrome or autism. That child can enjoy the physical activity of pickleball and interact with other children. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, or lack of money you have, you have a game that everybody can play.
“In our economically-challenged community in East Naples, it has given people a new outlet for their friends and family. That’s the investment, whether it’s a park or a school. It’s an investment in the community.”
Laura also teaches residents at Crown Pointe in East Naples, offering lessons every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. There are ongoing games at the East Naples Community Park and players are friendly. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can watch or even join in. If you don’t have equipment you can rent a racquet and whiffle ball for $1 at the community center and use one of the pickleball courts free.
“The scoring pretty simple,” explains Laura. “It’s like ping-pong. Game is 11 points, you only score when you serve and you have to win by two points.”
“I even know a woman who plays twice a week who has had two total knee replacements.”
“PICKLEBALL really is FOR ALL.”