‘Peace, love and pickleball’ in Yukon

Pickleball group celebrates Woodstock anniversary at Jackie Cooper Gym

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Yukon pickleball players Linda “Purple Haze” Lorenzen and Ron “Drug Store Truck Driving Man” Salafia celebrate the anniversary of Woodstock on Aug. 16 at the Jackie Cooper Gym, 1024 E Main. The Yukon pickleball “family” plays from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursdays at the City of Yukon facility. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Peace, love and music abounded when Yukon pickleball enthusiasts gathered for their morning recreation routine.

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Local pickleball players celebrated the anniversary of Woodstock as they competed Wednesday morning, Aug. 16 at the Jackie Cooper Gym, 1024 E Main.

The legendary Woodstock music festival was Aug. 15-18, 1969, near the town of Woodstock, N.Y.

To demonstrate opposition to the Vietnam War, the “three days of peace and music” featured 32 acts and attracted an audience of more than 400,000.

“Most of us are from that era,” said Carma Branscum, coordinator of Yukon’s pickleball group.

The Yukon Woodstock party attracted about 40 pickle-ballers who were encouraged to dress up in appropriate attire for the occasion.

Upon their arrival, Branscum gave each player a nametag – with either the name of an artist who appeared at Woodstock or the name of song performed during the four-day event.

“I gave them their names; they didn’t know what it was until they got here,” she said.

On the gym’s north wall was a large poster with the Woodstock theme, “Peace, Love and Music.” Each time a player won a game or heard a Woodstock song, they would sign their assigned name on the poster.

Yukon’s pickleballers play from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursdays inside the JC Gym, 1024 E Main.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball (much like a wiffle ball) over a net.

Since the sport is played on a court that is considerably smaller than a tennis court, pickleball is easier on the knees and hips than tennis and other court sports like basketball.

Sheila “I Had a Dream” Wiestner (left) and Betsy “Butterfield Blues Band” Hughes write messages on the “Graffiti Wall” during the Aug. 16th Yukon pickleball Woodstock anniversary party at the Jackie Cooper Gym, 1024 E Main. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
Checking out the snacks and sweets during the Yukon pickleball Woodstock anniversary party on Aug. 16 are: From left, Kelle “Freedom” Freels, Donna “10 Years After” McLean and Carma “Janis Joplin” Branscum. McLean is ambassador of the Greater Oklahoma City Pickleball Club. Branscum is coordinator of the Yukon pickleball group at the Jackie Cooper Gym, 1024 E Main. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
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‘ALL OVER THE WORLD’

“Pickleball is now for any age – anybody and everybody,” said Branscum, a retired Yukon physical education teacher. “You can play it for fun – or you can play it for competitiveness. You choose.

“You get to meet new people. We’re getting larger and larger.”

Pickleball has been one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States – and beyond.

“It’s real big,” Branscum noted. “It’s all over the world.

“People travel with their pickleball paddles, and they look to see where to play pickleball. We get people from Nebraska, Colorado and Texas, and people traveling through, who stop here to play.”

Everyone is welcome at the Jackie Cooper Gym to check it out Yukon’s pickleball group. Anyone with a Yukon address can play at no charge.

As leader of the local group, Branscum works closely with Greater Oklahoma Pickleball Club ambassador Donna McLean.

Yukon doesn’t have an official pickleball “club” since participants don’t pay dues.

“We call ourselves Yukon’s pickleball ‘family’,” Branscum said. “We don’t have ‘members’ or charge a membership fee; it’s open to anyone who wants to come play.

“They can take a free lesson and then get in a practice game to see if they like it. We have paddles they can borrow.”

Ken “Jimi Hendrix” Glover returns serve during a pickleball game on the Jackie Cooper Gym courts. Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
Ken “Jimi Hendrix” Glover signs the Peace symbol after winning a game at Yukon pickleball’s Woodstock party Aug. 16 inside the Jackie Cooper Gym, 1024 E Main. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
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