Pickleball Magazine 2-6 - Page 58

peace PIC K L E FO R BY LINDA CHEN EINSIEDLER, PHD, USAPA ATLANTIC REGION ASST. REGIONAL DIRECTOR P icture this: Girls and boys from war conflict countries around the world playing pickleball for the first time in their lives. Afghani and Pakistani kids dinking together on the same side of the court, a Jewish Israeli and Pakistani Muslim high-fiving each other after every point, Muslim girls wearing their colorful hijab headscarves beaming after returning serve for the first time… There is something magical happening in Otisfield, Maine, where pickleball was first introduced to Seeds of Peace, a leadership camp for American and international teenagers from war conflict countries/regions including the Middle East, Asia, UK, and Africa (www.SeedsofPeace.org). Every summer, campers are selected to attend and learn how to be leaders through open communication, open dialogue, listening, and trust-building skills, which they will take back to their native countries in leadership roles. If you play pickleball long enough, you are lucky to reconnect with past friends. In 2015, Dick Romeo (former Portland, Maine, lawyer, now Seeds of Peace dialogue counselor) called me to reconnect, talk about his role at Seeds, and discuss how to bring pickleball to the international campers. That summer, pickleball volunteer Robin Kessler and I drove up with generous donations of Onix balls and paddles. It didn’t matter that we played on temporary courts taped in an overgrown street hockey arena, as the sessions were completely filled with eager kids—most of whom had never played this game. We gave several introductory clinics. The kids learned quickly about the two-bounce and kitchen rules, sometimes speaking in different languages to coach each other about when to attack together “earning the net.” One month later, Robin and I were invited back to watch campers play their first pickleball tournament in the annual Color Games. We were amazed at how quickly these young kids had progressed from barely making contact to now playing serious points. The tournament finals American and Middle Ea stern players on old pickleball courts. 56 TO SUBSCRIBE CALL 888.308.3720 OR GO TO THEPICKLEBALLMAG.COM