Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Local Pickleball Website Connects Players

Pickleball's popularity has exploded in Williamsburg, with the local club, Pickleburg, doubling its number of members since March 2018. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jeff Anthony)
Pickleball’s popularity has exploded in Williamsburg, with the local club, Pickleburg, doubling its number of members since March 2018. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jeff Anthony)

WILLIAMSBURG — It’s name is Pickleburg. No that is not a typo, nor does it have anything to do with any food item preserved in a brine. Simply put, Pickleburg is an online resource and a means of bringing people together in the Historic Triangle for community, fun, exercise, with the main goal to talk about the game of pickleball.

Pickleball, for the uninformed is a sport played with two to four people using paddles to hit a large whiffle ball back and forth over a net. For a more in-depth description, check out the Pickleburg website.

When local pickleball statesman Jeff Anthony launched the site in 2014, he had intended it to simply be a resource to help people get started in the game. When he had started playing he had a hard time finding resources in one place, so he decided to build a website that did just that.

Pickleburg includes articles and videos for beginners. For more experienced pickleball players, the site also has suggestions for ways to improve your game. Pickleburg also connects members with other players in the region as well as help finding pickleball courts and local events.

“Pickleburg is just that website.” Anthony clarifies. “It owns nothing. The members sign up so that they can have access to other players. It’s a way to connect and it’s about our area and our sport.”

When he started the site, Anthony says that there were maybe 50 people registered. Fast forward to 2021 and the database has 740 profiles of people who love the game. When most activities and clubs were seeing rapid decline due to COVID-19 restrictions, Pickleburg surged, with the website gaining more than 200 profiles since early 2020.

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Anthony noted that the demographics of pickleball are changing. Having long been played by people in their 50s, 60s and older, the game is slowly shifting towards a younger crowd.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Anthony has seen a large uptick in younger players as well as family groups due to the change in work and school schedules.

At its core, pickleball is a very pandemic friendly hobby. For one thing, pickleball facilities tend to be outdoors. It is also a small group activity with only four people maximum per game.

Since pickleball was invented 50 years ago, people played it anywhere they could find space. Tennis courts were most often used on account of already having a net, but lack of equipment was not enough to stop the growth of the sport. Anthony said that more than a decade ago, people resorted to playing in parking lots using tape to line out the court.

In the last decade the number of places to play has skyrocketed. Parks and neighborhoods like Veteran’s Park, Kings Mill and Ford’s Colony have built facilities with as many as six dedicated courts. Not to mention indoor facilities that have been constructed at the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex (WISC), 5700 Warhill Trail, and the Quarterpath Recreation Center, 202 Quarterpath Road.

As restrictions begin to lighten and a huge number of people begin to return to their pre-pandemic lives, Anthony is not worried about losing any of the pickleball newcomers.

“The times they play might change,” he remarks. “They are not going anywhere. Once someone starts playing this game, they are players for life.”

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