After a remarkable first season, the fun league is about to begin again this spring. The team captains did a wonderful job bringing together a concept that everyone really liked. They grew to 14 teams during the year and have accepted two new teams this year. They now will have two divisions of eight teams each.
The first new team is from the Cheer Center in Ocean View, and the second is.... (drum roll...) Ocean Pines, Md., where I was the first tennis pro, circa Henry VIII. Ocean Pines has a wonderful program for multiple racket sports: pickleball, tennis and platform tennis.
My neighbors, Steve and Colleen Costa, put a tremendous amount of sweat equity into launching the Coastal Community Pickleball League and deserve the everlasting appreciation of everyone in our pickleball family. Other captains, including Bryon Plumly and Stan Piesla, have also done a wonderful job helping pull all of this together.
Play will begin this season on May 8, 2019. Participating communities are: Bay Colony, Bay Forest, Bayside, Bear Trap Dunes, Bethany West (two teams), Bishop’s Landing, Cheer Center (Ocean View), Fairway Village, Forest Landing, Ocean Pines, Savannah’s Landing, Sea Colony, Sea Grass and Millville By the Sea (two teams).
At one of the meetings, the captains discussed the possibility of supporting a charity to demonstrate how pickleballers’ care about our communities.
I don’t think the captains realize what a great thing they are already doing for our populace. Over the last five years, many of you have confided in me about serious health issues. I don’t write about health much in my pickleball columns because it tends to enhance the perception that pickleball is only for old people. But today I am, because so many people have had such a positive experience.
When a PBS station came here to televise a pickleball segment several years ago, we lined up folks with remarkable health recovery stories down the side an entire pickleball court. Some of their comments: “saved my life,” “heart rerouted blood,” “lost 8 pounds,” “cut my meds in half,” “now off meds.” Remarkable. It is as if the health issues are somehow vectored into laughter as the pickleball corkscrews into the sky.
Now, I must admit that I did not tell the captains this observation about health at the meeting, because we have an arrangement. I can attend the meetings as long as I sit in the back row and keep my opinions to myself. Stan PIesla said he took the idea from the King James Bible, where Henry VIII suggested that tennis pros were to be seen not heard. I can’t find that in my Bible but it seems to be working remarkably well.
In any event, I am impressed by the large number of players who play pickleball at a remarkably high performance level who were heart patients and cancer patients — so impressed that I have started to plan a pickleball match between two teams, both of which now have captains.
The first team will be known as the Cs, and the second as the Stents. Team members will have recovered from one or the other. All revenue collected will be given to the winning team so they can contribute to their cancer or heart charity. Alex Fraschetti will Captain the Cs, and Steve Melofchik the Stents.
If you would like to participate as a player, a fan, a neighbor or volunteer, please send me an email. I am in the process of securing a location, date and time, and sponsorship funds.
I am hoping that the public will attend this first match of possibly many between recovering heart and cancer patients so you can see how well they have dealt with adversity. In fact, it is something that “Dr. Baker” recommends.
Let’s all take a moment to thank the sport of pickleball because so many great pickles can still start their engines for another season!
Special note: At the complete other end of the spectrum, I am collecting used paddles for the first-ever public pickleball clinic for kids between the ages of 6 and 16. Could you please let me know by email if you have a donation so I can arrange to pick them up, clean them and take them to Ocean City’s Northside Park? I’m thanking you in advance.
Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.
By Vaughn Baker
Special to the Coastal Point