Yeofit and Rec Organize Intramural Doubles Pickleball


Photo by Abe Frato, Photo Editor

First-year Kai Kashey competed in the Intramural Doubles Pickleball League Monday night.

While the brief window of time between fall and winter sports seasons means fewer opportunities to watch the Yeowomen and Yeomen right now, there’s still a sport for avid Oberlin fans to attend that’s currently in full swing. On Mondays and Tuesdays, faculty and students alike serve, dodge, and volley against each other in friendly matches, competing as part of the Intramural Doubles Pickleball League.

As previously reported in the Review, pickleball’s popularity experienced a 650-percent surge of interested players in the past six years, and especially skyrocketed during pandemic restrictions in 2020. Due to its acclaim and the success of Oberlin’s intramural cornhole tournament a few weeks prior, Associate Director of Campus Recreation Sara Schoenhoft decided to organize the league. Before, the only place for the Oberlin community to play the sport was at the Splash Zone courts.

The league is organized into random doubles groups every week rather than a bracket. Surrounded by the din of neighboring basketball practices, the games usually take place in front of an audience of one and since there are no referees, the players are left to settle on the rules and scores themselves. They play in three sets for best out of 11 points. In between sets, the players can be seen trying to cool themselves off with paddles, talking strategies with their partner, or chasing the small yellow balls across the court.

Despite the informality, the level of play and excitement from competitors rivals some professional tennis games. For instance, this week, Associate Dean of Students Thom Julian delivered a Serena Williams-style ace in one of the nail-biting sets against women’s soccer players second-year Zoe Garver and third-year Brynn Adams. Meanwhile, football first-years Treyce Wood and Ben Ephraim continued to defend their two-game winning streak, defeating College fourth-years Naomi Friedman and Jessica Norris in a brief but heated game.

Wood and Ephraim said that pickleball is a refreshing athletic environment compared to the intensity of football practices while still offering fun and competition.

“We both signed up for cornhole and had a lot of fun with that,” Wood said. “It’s nice to just still be competitive but try a different sport now and kind of take a break from football.”

Although Bilingual Staff Therapist Libni López and Executive Director of the Career Development Center Anthony Pernell-McGee “lost terribly” to fourth-year men’s soccer players Jon Schafer and Zack Butter in their Tuesday afternoon game, they still enjoyed the exercise break and the chance to meet students.

“[Pickleball is] an opportunity to meet other faculty, staff, and students outside of whatever work that they’re doing or their office,” López said. “It gives you a little bit of a break … from your office to get your body moving. It makes the day a little bit easier.”

Schoenhoft said that just like the cornhole league prior, the pickleball league provided the opportunity to unite different members of the Oberlin community. In fact, many of the pickleball competitors played in the cornhole league, like Ephraim and Wood. She also said that there are more intramural leagues, including basketball for the winter and softball for the spring, for players to enjoy, even hinting at the return of another pickleball league.

“You don’t have to have a ton of experience,” Schoenhoft said. “[In the] cornhole league prior we had student athletes, we had non-student athletes, we had staff. I think that’s the whole point: to bring a lot of different diverse communities together.”

The league runs until Nov. 22 in West Phillips gym, playing on Mondays at 7 p.m. and Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to watch.