Home Travel Pickleball made me feel more like a New Jerseyan

Pickleball made me feel more like a New Jerseyan


Illustration of a man playing pickleball
Illustration: Daniel Guidera

Phyllis yelled at me for a solid half hour. That was the moment New Jersey began to feel like my home. She told me that I was standing at the wrong place and moving too fast, as well as not in the right direction. I was at Brookdale Park for my first ever pickleball round robin. I just showed up to play a new sport and was smoked mercilessly by people of every age. Phyllis was giving me some tough love. She was direct, in a manner that I recognized as a New Yorker. But she also had a neighborly quality: She gave me some advice and was patient and friendly to show me how badly I did. I came home that morning and told my wife, “I think I might like it here.”

Three months after that, I reached for a soccer ball and felt a pop! In my calf. Howling, I collapsed on the ground. In retrospect, I think it was a bit dramatic. But in New Jersey, it seems, you just might be lucky enough to have a physical-therapist-slash-standup-comedian playing on the next court. Dr. Rob helped me to my feet, walked me to my car, and told me if I came to his office the next day he’d get…

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