By Lauren Mullen, Staff Writer 

The Health Club iN Costumer with Chompers, the mascot of UMF

Health Club at a recent event (Photo By Lauren Mullen)

The University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) Health Club will be hosting their first ever pickleball tournament on May 8th, with proceeds going to The Dempsey Center.

Pickleball is a new and upcoming sport, a mix between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Aimee Clarrage, Health Club secretary, is responsible for organizing the tournament.

Clarrage has previous experience with the game and has been teaching her fellow club members how to play. Many club members had never heard of the sport, or were unclear about the rules of the game. “Picture a tennis court on a gym floor. Only instead of a racket you have an over sized ping-pong paddle and play with a wiffle ball,” said Clarrage, “Scoring is the same as ping-pong. It sounds crazy, but it’s a good time.”

After a Tuesday evening of playing a casual game of pickleball, Clarrage knew she wanted to share this hobby with the rest of the UMF campus, and brought her idea back to the club.

This is the first year health club has held a pickleball tournament. “We wanted a tournament to benefit The Dempsey Center, a cancer prevention and support center in Lewiston. At the same time we wanted a student, faculty and staff tournament to promote physical activity,” said Clarrage. “Pickleball is sweeping the nation with popularity and we wanted to share it with our UMF community.”

The Dempsey Center, technically called The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, is located in Lewiston, Maine. The center offers services to people who have cancer or to friends and family members of people with cancer. Health club is not only raising money for The Dempsey Center, but is also looking to participate in future events, such as the Dempsey Challenge, which is a walk/run/bike event.

Kelsey Arsenault, the vice president of the UMF Health Club, is working with the group to get a team together to compete in the Dempsey Challenge next fall. “We’re talking with the center right now to see if the money from our pickleball fundraiser can be matched for the challenge,” said Arsenault, “For the Dempsey Challenge they match money raised by college students, so if it all works out that would be really cool.”

Health Club is encouraging everyone to give it a shot. “It is in no way a competitive tournament, but more teaching the UMF community a new sport along with fundraising for an amazing cause,” said Clarrage.

The Health Club pickleball fundraiser will be held on May 8th from 5-8pm at the Farmington Community Center, across from Mallet School. All UMF students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up and play. Teams are made of 2 people, at 4 dollars per person.

Sign ups will be held outside South Dining Hall in the student center starting the last week in April. More information can be found on the Health Club Facebook page, or by e-mailing Aimee Clarrage at aimee.n.clarrage@maine.edu.