Students play pickleball at TCU. Photo courtesy of the TCU Pickleball Club (Kate Woolson / TCU Pickleball Club)
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One of the fastest-growing sports in the country is starting to flourish at TCU.

TCU’s pickleball club has grown to over 160 members since it launched in the fall of 2021, and it’s still growing.

“We just started playing more and more and then we realized how many people here actually want to play,” said Jack Vandixhorn, a junior finance major and vice president of the club. “It is a very sociable sport. We have many members who play a ton and many who play for the more social aspect.”

Even though it’s new at TCU, the sport is more than 50 years old, according to USA Pickleball.

The game started when Washington state congressman, Joel Pritchard, and successful businessman, Bill Bell, were at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA. Their families were sitting around with nothing to do and the property happened to have an old badminton court. Unable to find badminton equipment or rackets, they improvised by playing with ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.

The sport combines aspects of tennis, badminton and ping pong. Played inside or outside on a badminton size court with a modified tennis net, pickleball is enjoyed by people of all ages and various skill levels.

But some students have been hesitant to try it because they have never played before or think the game is more serious, said Vandixhorn.

“We have a lot of people who say it’s intimidating,” said senior communications major and club President, Matt Calvert. “They are scared to come out because they have never played. We have paddles for everyone too. We want everyone to come out because most of us have never even played before.”

The TCU Student Government Association and various pickleball companies have donated to the group — one pickleball company donated over 70 paddles. Vandixhorn and Calvert stressed the importance of funding and said without it, the team would not have survived.

The pickleball club practices Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Fridays at 3:30 p.m. 

Photo courtesy of the TCU Pickleball Club taken by Kate Woolson
Pickleball club members, Ryan Witte ’23 and Carly Rockwell ’23 celebrate after winning the match point at practice. (Sara Littlejohn/Staff Writer)

“Our vibe is to come and hang out. It doesn’t feel like practice,” said Vandixhorn. “If you want to grind and get better, there are people you can do that with. If you want to come and hang out and mess around there are people you can do that with as well.”

On Feb. 19, the team played Texas A&M in its first tournament at noon on the TCU Tennis Courts. Their hope is to play in other college tournaments throughout the semester.

“We want to continue growing the club and hopefully someday get permanent pickleball courts at TCU,” said Vandixhorn.

Pickleball is gaining popularity in the TCU community and is something that current club members encourage students to try.

“It is something you just have to do,” said Calvert. “People have been scared to come out and they came once but have been back every day since.”

Students can join through GroupMe or TCU engage. There’s also updated information on the club’s Instagram, @frog.pickle. The Instagram account has the largest college pickleball following in the country, according to Calvert. 

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