Today, we celebrate Mitch’s birthday, not just as the co-founder of The Pickle Lodge but as the driving force behind our beloved pickleball community. As a mediocre pickleball player on her best day, I speak not only for myself but also for the hundreds of individuals who have become members of The Pickle Lodge, where we’ve discovered more than just a venue for our beloved sport but a place where enduring connections are formed, laughter is a constant, and victories – no matter how small – are celebrated with fervor.
I had no idea that picking up a sport during a pandemic courtesy of YouTube tutorials would turn into a full-blown devotion. I mean, seriously, how many of us thought we’d be paying for a membership, collecting an arsenal of paddles, investing in faster footwear, grippier grips, thirstier towels, and whatnot? It’s safe to say, we’ve all taken quite the pickleball plunge.
But here’s the thing: Mitch knew. He knew all along that pickleball was coming, and it was coming for us hard. As I write this, only a few months into this pickleball adventure and with The Pickle Lodge still partially open, I can no longer imagine life without it. It’s not just a place to play; it’s become a second home, a cherished community, and a source of endless joy in my life. A blog post certainly can’t express how grateful I am to Mitch and his hardworking team for providing us with this haven for pickleball.
I have so many fond memories from The Lodge already, but I’ll never forget a quick conversation Mitch and I had last summer. It was during the final match of the first ever Men’s Paddle Battle. Mitch and I were standing on the sidelines, watching in awe as four men on court 12 were in full beast mode. It was the kind of pickleball I had only ever seen on online and the intensity of the game was palpable. I couldn’t help but turn to Mitch and ask, “Is this the kind of pickleball you envisioned happening at The Pickle Lodge?”
And without hesitation, Mitch nodded towards court 11 just to the left of that spectacular match, where Richard was teaching five little lodgekins, including my daughter, how to play pickleball. Mitch looked at that scene and said, “That’s the kind of pickleball I envisioned happening at The Lodge.”
I’m not often speechless, but I could only smile as I watched my daughter and her new friends learning the game, and I understood the true essence of Mitch’s vision. It was never just about intense matches and skilled players; The Pickle Lodge is about creating a space where everyone, regardless of age or skill level, could play, learn and enjoy pickleball together.
Mitch, you’ve not only made pickleball accessible to all of us, but you’ve also made it a part of our daily lives. You’ve introduced us to a community of like-minded individuals who share our passion, and for that, we thank you from the bottom of our pickleball-loving hearts. Your dedication often goes unnoticed amidst the excitement of the games and the anticipation of when the bathrooms will be ready or when we can finally get to the other side to play on more courts. So let’s make today the day we can give credit where credit is due.
The future of pickleball holds countless possibilities, as does the path ahead for The Pickle Lodge, and while we may not know what’s to come, there’s one thing I am absolutely certain of – Mitch sure does.
And so, on this special day, as we celebrate Mitch’s birthday, let’s raise our paddles and toast to his vision, his humor, and his unwavering passion for pickleball. Here’s to many more dinks, smashes, volleys, and shenanigans between matches, and to the continued growth and success of The Pickle Lodge. Happiest of birthdays to you, Mitch!
If you want to grant Mitch’s birthday wishes and continue to spread the joy of pickleball beyond our own community, consider supporting his fundraiser to bring pickleball to Ugandan youth. Mitch’s dedication to the sport doesn’t stop in West Chester and you can contribute to this meaningful cause by visiting the fundraiser page here: Let’s Build the First Pickleball Courts in Uganda. Your support will make a significant impact in introducing pickleball to a whole new generation of players and providing them with the opportunity to experience the same sense of camaraderie, fun, and friendship that we’ve found at The Pickle Lodge.