A group of pickle ball players smile for the camera with their paddles. They are standing on a tennis court on a cloudy day. There are trees behind them.

The ‘Traveling Picklers’ after a game with Icelanders.

 

Written by William Dahl ’25 of the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team

At the Morehead-Cain Alumni Forum later this month, attendees will have the opportunity to learn how to play pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in the country.

The founding scholars of the Carolina Club Pickleball Team will teach and play with alumni and scholars at the North Campus Recreation Complex tennis courts on Saturday, October 22, from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. (During the free-time activities period of the Forum).

Ahead of this event, the Scholar Media Team reached out to the four Morehead-Cain Scholars who make up the ‘Traveling Picklers.’ The group—Harrison Lewis ’22, Bobby McQueen ’22, Kobe Roseman ’22, and Nisarg Shah ’22—spent their last Summer Enrichment Program experience in Iceland with the aim of helping pickleball become an Olympic sport.

Over the course of five weeks, the scholars sought to spread the game within a country that has never had pickleball. They felt compelled to increase pickleball’s popularity because of the sport’s intergenerational and social nature.

The ‘Traveling Picklers’ answered four of our questions about pickleball. Here’s what they said.

When and why did you start playing pickleball?

After the first two years of my time at Carolina ended abruptly due to COVID-19, I found myself back at home without much to do. Wanting to use this newfound extra time in a positive manner to distract myself from the fact that I was missing my friends, and all of the social aspects that make the collegiate experience so special, I found myself back on the tennis courts on a daily basis.

Over the course of that summer, it was always the highlight of my day to play either tennis or this newfound sport that I had recently been introduced to with a funky name: pickleball. Re-engaging with sports through this context motivated me to not only get outside more but also prioritize my well-being through activities that made me feel better and happier.

—Nisarg Shah ’22

Why did you decide to help spread the sport internationally?

For me, pickleball is an extremely community-oriented sport. Being able to connect with different generations while having fun and getting good exercise is something that every community around the world should have access to. If knowledge surrounding the sport and the player base grows around the world, the easier accessing necessary equipment will become.

Our goal was to spread awareness and introduce pickleball with the intention of creating a self-serving pickleball community in places where the sport hasn’t yet found roots. This will help foster stronger senses of connectivity between everyone in a community through common sport.

—Bobby McQueen ’22

What is your favorite part about pickleball?

My favorite thing about pickleball is how easy it is to learn. From the first time a new player picks up a paddle, they can start having fun with the game. That’s what got me hooked and has made it so enjoyable for me to teach others, whether it’s friends or Icelandic strangers.

I’ve had friends who go from never having heard of the sport to wanting to play it daily within just a few weeks because of how easy it is to learn. It’s great for the growth of the sport, and it also provides me with endless competition!

—Harrison Lewis ’22

What is the most important thing for a new pickler to know?

When you’re first starting to play pickleball, just hitting around and getting a feel for the ball is one of the most important things you can do. Pickleball is an easy game for anyone to pick up, regardless of skill level, but the game can get complicated quickly with scoring, strategy, and various shot types.

When we were introducing pickleball in Iceland, we really tried to emphasize just getting a feel for the ball before introducing these other components of the game, and I think that helps new picklers get into the sport.

—Kobe Roseman ’22

*Attendees at the Alumni Forum should choose to play pickleball at their own risk.

More about the author

William Dahl ’25 of Wilmington, North Carolina, covers the alumni and selections beats for the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team, with a focus on business.

As a sophomore scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, William serves as an engagement manager for Consult Your Community and as an advocate for the Community Empowerment Fund.

William plans to pursue a major in business and minors in philosophy, politics, and economics and classical humanities at Carolina.

About the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team

The Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team is an extracurricular program and internship run by the Foundation’s marketing and communications team. Scholars of all class years collaborate to produce multimedia content for social media (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and X), the Catalyze podcast, email newsletters, and the website (www.moreheadcain.org). The team’s audience comprises more than 3,400 scholars and alumni.

The Scholar Media Team is led by Sarah O’Carroll, the content manager for Morehead-Cain. Participation is a semester-long commitment.