Bayside Pickleball Club

Bayside Pickleball Club members gather for their Adopt-a-Highway project, which cleaned a section of Old Mill Bridge Road on Oct. 19.

The Bayside Pickleball Club is an example of the fastest-growing sport in the U.S.

“Three and a half years ago, most of us hadn’t heard of it, until Troon, the sports management organization at Bayside, suggested we turn some of our courts into use for pickleball and tennis. We learned that every tennis court provides two for pickleball,” said Guy Incontrera, president of the club.

“It became popular in a hurry because it is a social sport with a drop-in, open-play format that gives everyone, no matter their skill level, the opportunity to play and have fun. In fact, we now have over 100 members and are building two more courts,” he said.

Mary Pineda is a member who enjoys both the social and competitive nature of the game.

“We play with the Coastal Communities Pickleball League, as well as the First State Pickleball Club. And this year, six of us competed at the Delaware Senior Olympics. It has provided me a great opportunity to meet and befriend people outside my immediate community,” she said.

Throughout the club’s history, members have found opportunities to contribute to local charities with which one member or another has a connection. This year, Jeff Heyne, who moved to Bayside a year ago partly because of the pickleball amenity, had a more formal suggestion.

“I noticed the Adopt-A-Highway signs since moving here and thought that would be a great thing for our club to participate in,” said Heyne. “I worked for 35 years at Exelon in Pennsylvania. It is the largest nuclear generation company, and its value of cleanliness becomes ingrained in all its employees.

“Once I found there were enough members who would be willing to volunteer, I contacted Cindi Warrington, who is the DelDOT program’s representative in Georgetown. She was very helpful and told me we could pick a road, at least 2 miles in length, that hadn’t already been claimed by another organization. We decided on Old Mill Bridge Road because it is close to Bayside and is one which most of us use regularly. Our two Adopt-A-Highway signs are located at the corners of Old Mill Bridge Road with Route 54 and Bayard Road, so we are definitely committed.”

The Bayside Pickleball Club’s first litter pick-up date was Oct. 19, in the afternoon. The group met at Signatures, the community’s clubhouse, and received instructions from Heyne. DelDOT provided the safety vests, disposable gloves and trash-bags, and volunteers chose to bring their own long-handled grabbers. All signed DelDOT’s official release form.

“It was a good afternoon’s work,” said Heyne. “We had 22 volunteers and picked up 22 bags of trash. Most of the trash was plastic soda bottles, beer cans and mini whiskey bottles. We also picked up a front grill of a Honda and a hardhat with a dead mouse! One of the best parts was the reception we received from several residents who live there. We were offered water and the use of their bathrooms, and just generally were made to feel appreciated. It feels good to volunteer and give back.”

In the spirit of the social nature of pickleball, the volunteers ended back at Signatures to enjoy a well-deserved, nice cold beverage.