Neighbor since: 2012
In their quest to buy a home in Florida, Dwight and Jacqueline Bissonette, snowbirds from Williston, Vt., had one unique requirement: The community had to have a pickelball court.
Dwight Bissonette, 69, is a retired IBM worker, and his wife is a retired pre-kindergarten teacher. The Bissonettes have dedicated their retirement to bringing pickelball, a miniature-tennis-like game involving a paddle — Dwight Bissonette’s is custom-made — and a Wiffle ball, to the Esplanade community.
The couple, who got involved in the sport three years ago at Sun-N-Fun RV resort in Sarasota, when they were living there part time, plays at Esplanade every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The first game of the season drew 15 people, but Dwight Bissonette says the sport has been slow to gain momentum.
As he creeps to the front of the court near the “kitchen,” a 7-foot non-volley zone where players can’t stand, and lunges at the ball, Dwight Bissonette exclaims, “This is just so much fun!”
IN HIS OWN WORDS
On the origin of the name pickelball: “One story is a guy hit a Wiffle ball in his yard with a paddle, and he had a dog named Pickle who kept interfering.”
On what drew him to pickelball: “It’s the ability to have exercise and fun without having to be 20 years old and athletic. I have played against people with hip and knee replacements.”
On his goal for pickelball: “We already have three generations of family playing pickelball back home. We’ve gotten our kids and grandkids interested in it. Hopefully we can bring tournaments to Esplanade.”