The other day I was sitting on the sideline of my local Y, waiting my turn for my next game when my mind started to wander. I started thinking how it must have been to have been a part of the creation of the game back in the summer of 1965!
The creativity it took to take an idea birthed out of the need or desire to be able to have several generations participate while all having a good time is impressive to mull over, but even more impressive when we now see where that original burst of creative thought has brought the Pickleball Universe!
Grabbing a used badminton net lying around in the garage, a wiffleball discarded after the last game of baseball a few days before and some homemade paddles crafted out of plywood, mix it all together with some crazy rules, a couple of kitchens and a slab of concrete lined off with obscure dimensions and the sport of Pickleball became reality! As I continued to get lost in my daydream, I could actually hear the laughter from those first games on Bainbridge Island, the questioning of the new rules, ironing out the kinks before letting the world be able to grab the “next” game!
That history, the beginning of the game, the roots are things that truly give me goosebumps as I think about the infancy of the game. Hopefully as we continue to grow, we will take the time to make sure that history and the ones involved are celebrated and not forgotten. Jennifer Lucore did an awesome job compiling some of the history of the game and for that we should all be grateful!
Fast forward to the early 1980’s and I find myself in the garage of one Arlen Paranto, another creative individual that played a huge role in the Pickleball rise in popularity. Having the vision to take materials that were lighter, more durable and more responsive, take the time to test these materials, and through trial and error develop the first Pickleball Paddles made of something other than wood is a talent I really can’t fathom. Thank goodness paddle progression wasn’t laid upon my shoulders because they’d still be wood! Again, this time in the sports history needs to be celebrated and preserved!
Finally, my name gets called and I snap out of my historical haze, only to look down at my trusty PROLITE Rebel paddle. Another chill creeps up my spine and I wished Arlen Paranto was near so I could shake his hand and say thanks for starting the great company known then as the Ultra Lite Paddle Company, and today as PROLITE Sports! In business since 1984, the quality of the paddles, the creativity have continued to lead the industry. But as far as a the company goes, the paddle has been a springboard to allow PROLITE to grow the game, spreading this incredibly unique sport with the funny name of Pickleball! Thank you Mark Friedenberg for taking PROLITE and making it the most recognizable Paddle over the past 35 years, with the Iconic Ball and Bolt logo leading the way for other companies branding themselves as they grew within the sport! And thank you to Neil Friedenberg for continuing to carry the torch forward, always looking for ways to make what is already great, even GREATER! Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so you, Mark and Arlen should all be extremely flattered because all the other companies and paddle manufacturers are imitating what you all created and continue to offer to the Pickleball Community!
Someone is shouting 0-0 Start! Gotta Go play “One More Game”