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One man’s passion for pickleball leads the sport to grow locally in Clinton Township

One man’s passion for pickleball leads the sport to grow locally in Clinton Township
Courtesy: Steven Benefield/Clinton Township Cool-Catz

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Pickleball, a paddle sport that combines badminton, ping pong, and tennis, has been around since 1965. Until recently, it has been a senior sport mainly played in warmer retirement communities. The sport has taken off and is one of the most played sports in the country as it is now drawing younger players of all ages.

Steven Benefield has a passion for pickleball, and is doing all he can to grow the sport locally. He started playing pickleball in 2017 and became a Clinton Township local USA Pickleball Ambassador in 2018.

“I formed our first indoor league in 2018 at Peach Tree Tennis Club, as well as helped the Clinton Township Parks and Recreation Department develop the first local municipality fully operated pickleball league in the country,” said Steven. “The league will be in its third year and played on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Civic Center in Clinton Township.

As a sport that involves movement and agility, Steven says that keeping in the best shape possible by cross training as well as constant drills is best for those wanting to take their game to the next level.

For Steven, pickleball draws so many smiling faces. Whether playing recreationally or in a tournament, the young, old, male, female, and even those with disabilities, all experience satisfaction in every game. But sometimes there can be disappointment. Steven explains that the games are mainly played as “doubles”, and whether it’s in a tournament or highly competitive recreation game, most players understand that with wins, come losses. “The sport seems to draw good sportsmanship, which is all part of winning and losing. ‘Shake it off and move on’ seems to resonate with most.”

Steven’s proudest moments are watching a beginner mature into a fantastic player, and win their first gold medal and/or become competitive with players that they looked up to just a short time ago.

“Finding pickleball was one of the best things that ever happened to my wife and me,” says Steven. “It’s a rare sport that does not discriminate. Young, old, male, female, handicapped, and the physically challenged can all play and compete.” He wants to see the sport grow and is grateful that local municipalities are converting unused tennis courts as well as building new courts in Shelby, Macomb, and Clinton Townships.

Being part of a growing sport, Steven has realized that “the game is much bigger than all of us. It’s just a game, and will be here when we are all gone. Enjoy it while you can. Life is to short, and our life/health can be taken away in an instant.”

This is an unedited user writing submission. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Best Version Media or its employees.

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