Coach Megan Leahy Brings Pickleball Demo to the Nancy Bartles Middle School in Tampa, Florida.
Front Row: Megan Leahy, Physical Education Specialist, Nancy Bartles Middle School, Tampa, Florida, and Donna Donald
Back Row: Rich Donald, Don Bass and Renee Glassman
We were thrilled when Coach Megan Leahy from the Bartles Middle School, near our home in Wesley Chapel, Florida, invited us to her school. Ms. Leahy told us she had played pickleball in college and loved it, so decided to introduce the game to her Physical Education Class. They loved it too!!! That probably had a lot to do with how well she plays the game, and the enthusiasm and excitement she generates when she’s on the court with her class . Then she saw the Kings Point Pickleball League, with reporter Charlie Belcher playing on TV! Because her class was enjoying the game so much, she saw a potential visit from local players as an opportunity for her students to experience the game at a different level and to learn more about the rules and techniques needed to improve their game.
Don Bass and Renee Glassman, along with Rich and Donna Donald, didn’t hesitate to say yes when asked to assist us with a pickleball demo for the students. We would be guests during their regularly scheduled class, so our time was limited to just about one hour. Not a lot of time; we needed to use it wisely. Anticipating about 50 young people to be attending; we needed an agenda that would keep them interested and involved.
During the initial introductions we explained that Rich was a multi medal winner. That was exciting for them and even more so when told that several of them would have an opportunity to volley and do some practice drills with us on the courts. Rich addressed the group, talking about the history of the game and how it got its name. We were very impressed with how well the students had prepared for the day. They had visited USAPA on line prior to our visit, so they did a super job both asking great questions and giving some pretty good answers too. Rich emphasized safety on the courts, talked about the size of the court, the rules of the game and where to best position yourself on the court when playing. With the help of Don and Renee and Donna, Rich demonsted a proper serve as well as the groundstroke, volley, lob and dink shots, emphasizing placement over power.
Then we played a game for the group. Rich and Renee took the lead, so it was really exciting to hear the group cheering for Don and Donna to catch up!!!! After the game, several of the students rotated on to the court. Some practiced the serve, some the serve and volley, and others practiced doing a drill with dink shots. Even Coach Leahy came on the court to play with her classmates!
We closed with our official “Pickle Ceremony”. All of the students were officially sworn in and recited an oath to always promote this great game, to play safely, to always demonstrate good sportsmanship, and to always have FUN! We provided each student with a handout providing safety tips on the court, strategies to improve their game, and Pickleball Trivia and Word Find Games. Each student also received their official green Pickle Pin.
Great news is that Coach Leahy has promised to come play with our group in Meadow Point II, now that she knows we play regularly. Her students are welcome too, and we hope some of them are excited enough to bring their parents with them. We left our contact information with her, should students/parents want to contact us. We’ve also offered to meet with her and her students after school at any time for additional coaching, practice drills and playing. There were some students with great potential…………Maybe we just inspired a future Florida State Champion!!!
We had so much fun with these young people. Contact the local middle or high school in your area and take time to share your talents. You will find it personally very rewarding.