Contributed by Stan Piesla
Last week, Steve Costa reached out to all team captains to find out the number of players on each of our 14 teams. Unbelievably, we currently have 229 players in the Coastal Communities Pickleball League. Quite an impressive number considering the concept for the league only surfaced seven months ago!!
With a few new teams this season, I thought it would be good to again share just where this idea for our League came from.
It was the brainchild of Vaughn Baker, who writes the weekly Pickleball Points column in The Coastal Point. Here are excerpts from a March 5, 2018 email he sent to some of the “regular” pickleballers in different communities about his concept of possible inter-community play:
Concept – A fun pickleball community league. ” I have been involved with teaching many pickleball beginners. While sidelined with knee recovery, I found myself thinking of what might make their pickleball experience better. Here at Fairway we have players who want to play for fun and are not interested in getting involved in tournaments. As a result, they seemingly come together infrequently because nothing is organized. I started to think that an area community fun league might be appropriate here. … I am introducing the concept of a fun league to a bright group of people to see if they think it might be timely, and if they want to run with it. I am asking those addressed here, leaders in your communities, to sit down together, and discuss if this Fun concept is something for them. … Organize your play around some previously agreed format with loads of laughter and smiles. I am not sure of the match format but you are a smart group and will come up with something unique, lighthearted, and full of laughter.” Vaughn
And the use of some “new tools”, by some communities, have been introduced to better deal with the increased number of players at a weekly match – namely, a Round Robin Format. This format was foreign to me when Joanne Timchalk, captain of Bethany West Team 2, first mentioned it at a Captains meeting. They had a large team – so large, in fact, that they are now split into Bethany West Teams 1 & 2. It was something, she said, worked very well for them to organize their sessions, ahead of time, so as to maximize actual play time.
In an email to me a couple of weeks ago, Kathy Preston, the co-captain of Bethany West Team 1, brought up the subject of Round Robin again. I was daunted by the 29 page PDF she attached though. I researched a number of sources for details and reviews about its use.
I actually found a good description of it that I thought had an excellent relationship to our concept of a fun, non-competitive league, with players of multiple skill levels. But, here’s the difference – they used actual playing cards to determine people-to court-to partner match ups. Kathy’s PDF of various RR Charts played the same role as the cards do for assignment. You can read the full article, “Round-Robin, Luck-of-the-Draw Pickleball Challenge — Mixing it Up!” at Pickleball Max.com. Here’s some cuts & pastes from it:
“On special occasions, however, we have been trying to “mix things up.” Next Friday, for example, we will be doing a “Round-Robin, Luck-of-the-Draw” challenge for our beginners and low-level intermediate players. Typically these two groups don’t interact with each other a whole lot – with the beginners on three courts in Gym A and the low-level intermediates on three courts in Gym B – separated by a curtain. One of the goals – in addition to just mixing it up a bit – is to enhance the interactions amongst all the players.
Ah. You noticed. I didn’t say “tournament.” The Round-Robin, Luck-of-the-Draw Challenge is simply a fun, “competitive” format where everybody will play one game with and against somebody different (random drawings). Each “game” will be played and timed for 8 minutes. After each game, players will redraw and will once again have a different partner and opponent.”
For us, the charts seem to work just fine. Thanks to Joanne Timchalk, Kathy Preston and Beth Kravetz for their “putting it out there” for us to learn about it and for considering its use in the League. Just Google “Round Robin in pickleball” to find out more.
The weather once again cooperated for Week 2 of our Fall Season. I believe there hasn’t been a single rain out for any match since the League was created last Spring. Here are some pictures sent to me from Sea Colony, Bear Trap and Bethany West Team 1. I didn’t have pictures to post of them last week.