Pickleball, a family-friendly sport with elements of ping-pong, tennis, and badminton, is growing in popularity nationwide.
A year ago, finding a place to learn or play in San Pedro was challenging. Now there are multiple places to play locally, thanks to the dedication of community member Lysa Quealy.
Quealy, a U.S. pickleball ambassador, reached out to Los Angeles Recreation and Parks (RAP) towards the end of the pandemic to advocate for pickleball at the local parks. She was able to secure courts at Daniels Field in the beginning. Quealy would bring her own net and use temporary lines working around the schedule of the San Pedro High School tennis team who play there. She got the word out about local pickleball by posting on social media, and people began to show up. RAP asked Quealy to move the pickleball from Daniels Field to Peck Park.
Peck Park Pickle Ball’s open play is 9 a.m.–12 p.m. on Tuesdays and 4–8 p.m. on Fridays, with an average of 30-50 people playing daily. The park provides a net to check out. Some players also bring their own nets. The park has hosted Family Picnic Day to encourage individuals of all ages, from seniors to youth, to learn how to play.
“Pickleball is very social and inclusive. You meet some of the nicest people,” says Quealy. “Pickleball gets people outside and is a great way to meet others.”
Quealy also worked with the Anderson Memorial Senior Center for ages 50 and above to advocate for pickleball courts inside and outside the building. Pickleball has increased participation at the center. It costs $10 a year to be a member. A series of eight pickleball classes costs $10, and classes are held Mondays 9–10 a.m., Tuesdays 4–5 p.m. and 5–6 p.m.
“Some of the people playing pickleball were new to [the center] and signed up for art classes as well. Pickleball brings a sense of community, and the group celebrates birthdays and has potlucks,” says Quealy. “People are making new friends and even finding mates.”
Pickleball is easy for most to learn and is played with four people. Players rotate in and out of games and wait their turn if there are extra players. Players tend to compete with others at their same skill level, but beginners are always welcome, especially in public settings like the park. More exclusive competitive leagues exist in other cities or private clubs. The City of Los Angeles prohibits discrimination by race, age, or athletic skill level at their parks.
There is a movement to add more pickleball courts in other local parks. Quealy is hopeful agencies like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs will consider adding the sport to their offerings. Schools can receive small grants for equipment and nets. Lines can be chalked or taped so the sport can be played in various areas, including indoors.
New players typically pick up the sport quickly. At Peck Park, Quealy generally is available to teach newcomers enough skills to get started during open play. There are extra rackets to try out before committing to purchasing one. Court-type shoes are encouraged.
Pickleball creates a sense of community while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. The pickleball movement is strong in San Pedro and continues to grow. For more information, contact Peck Park at (310) 548-7580 and Anderson Memorial Senior Center at (310) 548-7596. spt