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Hitting the Courts With the FGCU Pickleball Club

Jessica Piland

FGCU has a new club sport: pickleball club. It was formed around the start of September, but has been in the works for a little over a year now. 

For those new to the sport, pickleball is very similar to tennis but involves different rackets and balls; however, similar rules apply.

Team captain and club president Tyler Calka has been working to get the team started and is excited about what the club holds for FGCU.

“Pickleball is easy to pick up because it is a smaller court so you don’t have to put too much power into hitting the ball,” Calka said. “You do need to avoid the kitchen which you can’t step in unless the ball bounces there.”

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He said that one of the challenges he first faced when playing the sport was maintaining a proper serve but with a little bit of practice he was able to get the hang of it.

“When first learning the sport it can be hard to get those spins,” Calka said. “It’s hard to get that down and sometimes your serve as well because you have to get a lot of speed when you’re in a stance and trying to serve the ball.”

Some tips for rookies include practicing that initial serve and spending a lot of time on the court getting a feel for the swings and the racket.

The club plans to have practices from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Mondays once properly established. The team expects to play competitively through the 2024-2025 school year and they practice at the RWC gym near the basketball courts.

Kennedy Macklin, pickleball club vice president, is excited about what the future holds for the club and the sense of community everyone feels while playing.

“The thing I like most about the club is how many different skill levels are in the club. Everyone is very friendly which makes the environment more enjoyable, and we all learn off of each other to become more skillful players,” Macklin said.

One thing that has inspired her to play the sport is the connection that players are able to share with friends and family getting into this new sport. 

“I first got into the sport because my mom’s community has pickleball courts so we thought we would give it a try and I instantly loved it,” Macklin said. “One piece of advice I would give someone looking in is to try something new. You never know how you will like it. If you join pickleball we will help you grow as a player and it is a great way to get involved and meet new friends.”

The pickleball club hopes to continue to grow in size as the year goes on. The club has expanded to 50 members currently on their Eagle link and 70 members on their Microsoft link.

“We want to keep promoting and growing the team through Florida,” Calka said. “I think just trying out the sport and seeing how it is because it’s such a fun sport and anyone young and old can play.”


  Since joining the sport, Calka and other members have felt that they have created a strong bond that many of them wouldn’t have originally expected from starting the sport. He encourages any students looking to try out the sport to come by the rec center and check out what pickleball is all about. The team enjoys the connection they have built with each other and have been excited to continue learning the sport and teaching new players the ins and outs.


“I think just trying out the sport and seeing how it is because it’s such a fun sport and anyone young and old can play,” Calka said. “Anyone is welcome to come in and see the connections the sport can help build. We all bounce feedback off each other on how to improve the club and would love to hear everyone’s input for the future.”

The team was able to have their first open gym practice matches on Oct. 21 and plans to continue having more matches on Saturdays as they develop a schedule and routine for the club.

To sign up for the club, you can join through their Eagle Link as well as join their Microsoft Teams link to receive notifications on the latest news regarding the club.

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About the Contributor
Jessica Piland, Eagle News Photo Editor
Jessica Piland is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in global studies. She found her passion for photography during her senior year of high school after shooting some film for fun with her grandfather’s camera from the 80s. In addition to her work as photo editor for Eagle News, she works as a staff photographer for FGCU Athletics and is a photography intern with the University Marketing and Communications department. As she enters her third year as photo editor, she is excited for the fun stories, campus events, and breaking news that Eagle News will be covering!

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