The Groundwork for Friendship

How pickleball Came to Carlyle Place.

Gym shoes pivoting on pavement, rackets swinging, and laughter. These are the sounds of summer at Carlyle Place. Resident Advisory Council president Fred Reese had a lot to do with how the pickleball courts at Carlyle Place came to be. His career in resort operations made him a natural for community organizing, especially recreation projects. Fred moved to Carlyle Place from another active adult community a few years ago and brought his love of the game with him.

The Pickleball Invasion

Fred picked up pickleball about a decade ago when he noticed some of his neighbors playing what looked like a strange version of tennis but with smaller rackets. After learning the game and falling in love with it himself, it wasn’t long before he and other neighbors began organizing and competing in tournaments. Since the early 2000s, pickleball has really taken off with active people of all ages because it’s less physically demanding than tennis, which makes it perfect for seniors.

“Your mind thinks like a teenager, but your body acts like an older person,” Fred joked. “You just gotta be careful at my age; with pickleball, you can still have your competitive edge, but it’s not as aggressive as tennis. You basically play from the same spot, there’s very little running or anything like that. In fact, when I teach my fellow residents how to play, I tell them if they run, I’m going to send them home. We don’t like to run, and we don’t like to back up, because that’s when people fall.”

It’s become so popular in the Macon area that Fred predicts it could become the pickleball capital of the country! There are dozens of courts at Tattnall Pickleball and Tennis Center downtown as well as a soon-to-be-completed project that is converting parts of the Macon Mall into the world’s largest indoor pickleball complex. You can find plenty more information about the local pickleball scene on Macon Pickleball. They publish updates about leagues, tournaments, lessons, and open courts.

The Courts at Carlyle Place

Luckily, Carlyle Place residents don’t have to leave home to get their fix. Last spring, Fred began talking with neighbors and realized there was interest in building some courts on campus. With the sport catching on like wildfire around Macon, it just made sense to bring the courts to residents. As the elected Resident Advisory Board President, Fred knows a thing or two about getting things done. In just five months, Fred secured community funding and contractors to build state-of-the-art courts for residents to enjoy. And because of the pleasant Georgia climate, pickleball season goes on all year long.

“It started with Dr. Patel, who was our community doctor. He wrote a letter to the CEO stating that he felt like it would be beneficial for Carlyle Place to have pickleball courts because of the health benefits has for older people. And so, he wrote that letter, and the CEO knew that I played pickleball. She asked me if I would help her get the courts built, and I said, ‘I will certainly do that.’ We started working towards getting enough money to build the pickleball courts. There’s a committee here called the Development Committee and they sponsor some things, so we went to them, and they agreed to fund half of the cost. Then Carlyle Place agreed to fund the other half, about $50,000 total. I hired contractors, and we got it going,” Fred explained. 

A Hot Commodity

The courts are such a smash, they were featured on the local news. Carlyle Place is one of very few retirement communities with on-campus pickleball courts and it’s one of the things that makes it such a unique place to live. Most days of the week you’re bound to find courts full of mixed doubles. It’s a wonderful asset for everyone and residents are encouraged to invite friends and neighbors to join them in a few games. We’ve found that Pickleball is a great way to meet people because it’s so addictively fun that once you start, you’ll be on the court non-stop.

“After almost every game, we all sit down and talk and get to know each other,” Fred went on, “Another thing about pickleball is that women and men can compete together. We actually have more women playing than we do men which is interesting. It’s a very social game, and it can be just as competitive or casual as you want it to be. I always tell everybody; I never see anyone laughing on a treadmill. We laugh all the time on the pickleball courts.”

Fred also stressed that life at Carlyle Place is like living at a resort, which is a big reason why he chose it. “We’re not a nursing home. I have a friend who’s 89 years old out there playing with us. It’s a perfect way to spend time outside with people. It’s also good for balance. If you’re playing regularly, you’re less likely to fall because you learn how to balance yourself. All things that help with aging. It’s good aerobic exercise without being too overwhelming.”

The courts’ first summer season is in full swing. Fred and 16 of his neighbors are gearing up for a tournament. Participants range in age from 65 to 89.

At Carlyle Place, we empower residents just like Fred to “craft your happy”. That means, if there’s something you’re passionate about, you should share that with others. Carlyle Place has such a diverse assortment of classes and activities thanks to so many residents who came to leadership with an idea. Grab your sneakers and join us for a game of pickleball this summer and learn why this game is taking over! Join us for a tour by calling 478-405-4544 today.

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