MLC students flock to first-ever Pickleball Palooza
By Josiah Koelpin
Journal Sports Correspondent
NEW ULM — As the leaves gently fall, indicating the beginnings of autumn all around New Ulm, on the top of the hill, a fever has coursed through the Martin Luther College student body once again.
However, unlike years past, this fever is no ordinary disturbance such as the common cold. This is one of a different nature, as many MLC students are feeling the symptoms of pickleball fever.
For those unfamiliar with the sport of pickleball, it has, in recent years, spread throughout the country, becoming the fastest growing recreational sport in the United States. The sport is similar to tennis, with the main difference being that the pickleball court and net are smaller.
This past Sunday, New Ulm was no exception to the pickleball craze as the MLC Student Senate hosted the first ever Pickleball Palooza for their student body.
Lincoln Park was flooded with over 60 students on Sunday afternoon as students vied for the coveted Pickleball Palooza trophy amid the threat of imminent rain. Participants came from every class and brought with them a myriad of skill sets. There were those who had never even picked up a pickleball, let alone a paddle, and there were those who had their own custom grip on their own signature paddle.
Not accounting for various levels of gameplay, all were clumped together in one double-elimination bracket for a day of plenty of swings and lots of pickles, which were the refreshment of choice. Unfortunately, the predicted possible precipitation poured on the pickleball players, however, they were not discouraged.
The pickleball playing was transferred to the MLC Gym in order to finish the few remaining games. MLC seniors Josiah Koelpin and Elijah Schulz cruised to the championship undefeated, playing juniors Sarah Hoffe and Jess Waege for the unequivocal honor of being the first Pickleball Palooza champions.
In a single match, on the gym floor, Koelpin and Schulz walked away victorious, 11-9. As a measure of good faith, the runners-up each received two jars of pickles for their efforts.
After asking for any comments, co-champion, Elijah Schulz commented, “There is more yet to come.”
MLC looks to host another pickleball tournament, with the desire to open it up to the New Ulm community.
The popularity of pickleball seems to be on a steady trajectory, with few signals of slowing down.
Lincoln Park offers an ideal spot for any beginner or expert pickleball player. On any given day, there is a group of pickleball players enjoying the beautiful New Ulm Fall weather.
Grab a paddle and a whiffle ball and join in on the pickleball fever that is sweeping through New Ulm.