As I left my home just after 6 AM and driving to the Palmetto Ridge High School in Naples, FL, the thoughts came back of my first days of school. There were many feelings that went through me and they were back again! Sure enough many of those feelings were not even warranted….but in this case some were.
Paige Mitschele, John Flanagan, Tracy Bowen and I arrived at school at 6:45 AM after a 35 minute drive. The sun was still sleeping on our side of the world! That’s when we discovered it was an outdoor event. We began setting up the two temporary courts on the existing tennis courts along with several practice stations under minimal light.
At 7am the school bell sounds and school has begun…..can’t believe I still get nervous with that sound😊, that’s a whole other story. A few minutes later the doors open and the line of students begins to emerge. Uh oh, we better change our plan! We had 45 seconds to revise our plan…..that’s how long it would take for the students to get on the courts.
Why would you change a plan so quickly you ask? Most classes we have been involved with have 30 to 40 students. After speaking with the three PE teachers that brought the class out, there were roughly 125 students in the first class of the day!
Then the news got better😊….you have 35 minutes to teach them pickleball! Well we did it and even had them playing a game! The rest of the day was a piece of cake, with class sizes of only 90, 80, 70, 70, 40, 80….those are all ish!
Thanks to Paige for many reasons, she had other plans for the second shift but gave that up when we realized the sizes of the classes to support us. Paige’s experience as a special needs teacher and mom was critical to making this work so successfully. She was the leader when recognizing the need to adapt quickly and make the necessary changes.
At the end of the day it was very successful event and pickleball has reached over 550 more people. The school has the equipment to continue and we will be available to work with them on the advancement of the Pickleball program.
Getting the attention of a younger crowd is difficult but thanks to our much younger players that have a passion for this sport like Kyle Yates and Josh and Rachel Elliott, we are able to gain the interest of these future pickleball players by discussing their success in this sport. Keep up the good work we are working on getting you younger competition!