STONE HARBOR – Stone Harbor’s passion for pickleball ignited in the spring of 2014 and shows no signs of being labeled “just another trendy sport.” Pickleball is a paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels that is “growing in leaps and bounds,” stated Stone Harbor Pickleball Coordinator Kim Jackson in a release.

Pickleball combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.

The game now coined “the fasted-growing sport in America,” by many notable publications, is played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Sounds easy enough right? Well, not exactly when Stone Harbor Recreation welcomed the numbers it did in 2017. Stone Harbor Recreation welcomed over 3,000 players to their courts in a 12-week span in 2017; 1,250 of them were introduced to the sport through the Stone Harbor program alone; 51 beginners was the record high in just one beginner session.

Thanks to the dynamic foursome that organizes the Stone Harbor Pickleball program, it can be!

“Nancy Cunard, Jackson, Phyllis Kilgour and Michele Storb have created an inspiring culture on our courts unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” stated Borough of Stone Harbor’s Director of Recreation and Tourism Miranda Duca. “They are a triple threat on court. Their personalities, patience and passion for the sport encourage players not only to learn the game properly, but have a blast while doing so. I am incredibly grateful to them for donating more than 240 hours of their time and energy on court each summer developing such an inclusive and wholesome benefit to our community.”

All four women are Stone Harbor property owners and have a deep connection with Stone Harbor. Jackson summered in Stone Harbor since 1985 and ultimately bought a home in 1995. She was a teacher and taught pickleball for 25 years in physical education classes in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Kilgour's family came to Stone Harbor over 60 years ago and eventually bought her house in 1976 that she owns today. Kilgour, also a teacher, taught pickleball for 30 years in physical education classes at Radnor High School in Pennsylvania.

Storb grew up summering in Stone Harbor since she was a child, and has owned a home in Stone Harbor for the past 15 years. The healthy competition pickleball inspired between the Storb Family; Michele, Lewis, and children Malin, 25, Marc, 22, Mitchel, 21, and Michael, 17, epitomize the old saying “a family that plays together, stays together.”

And don’t let Cunard’s modest and humble persona fool you on court. She is a tenacious Pickleball player who has been playing actively for eight years. She is the first to greet you with a warm smile and is the driving force behind the camaraderie created on court. Cunard spent her summers in Stone Harbor with her family since 1943 and has lived in Stone Harbor full time for 40 years. She created, owned, and operated The Bread & Cheese Cupboard for 34 years on 96th St. in Stone Harbor.

Kilgour, Storb and Jackson play in the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships annually. Kilgour and Jackson both medaled in the prestigious pickleball tournament; The Huntsman Games hosted in St. George, Utah. Needless to say, there is no shortage of talent instructing the Stone Harbor Pickleball program.

In 2017, Stone Harbor Recreation hosted two tournaments greeting 180 players to the first-rate facilities on 82nd St. Back by popular demand, Stone Harbor Recreation is gearing up to host the Second Annual Spring Pickleball Tournament June 23-24 for ages 19 and up.

“Younger people are getting involved which helps with the growth of the sport,” stated Kilgour, an official USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) Ambassador and Stone Harbor Pickleball coordinator. “It’s wonderful to offer a tournament to local and regional players to not only expose our top-notch facility, but offer an opportunity for younger players to get tournament experience since the age groups range from 19-70-plus years. I have witnessed the talent progress in just a few short years and the level of competition has certainly risen. My advice to future generations would be if you aren’t immediately successful, stick with it, and growth will happen!”

The resonating message from the volunteer coordinators is Pickleball keeps you active on the court, develops lasting friendships off the court, and be prepared to get addicted!

Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour and Borough Council recognized the volunteer efforts of these four exceptional individuals at the Borough Council meeting June 19.

For additional information or to play in the Stone Harbor’s Pickleball program, visit www.StoneHarborRecreation.com