After taking her first physical education class last year, senior Grace Lawhorn jumped at the chance to take a class about pickleball this spring. 

“I took Frisbee last year, which was really, really fun. It was my first PE class that I've taken since middle school, and this is finally the first semester where I'm not completely loaded down with coursework,” Lawhorn said. 

Elon University offers a variety of physical activity classes for credit, and this year, pickleball is a popular one. The sport is similar to tennis, where players are set on a badminton-size court and hit a plastic ball back and forth over the net with a paddle. The paddle is about twice the size of a ping pong paddle. Pickleball is becoming more popular in the states as it has now reached 4.8 million players, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. 

Lecturer in wellness Bryan Hedrick oversees the entire activity course program and is teaching Pickleball/Badminton this semester. Hedrick has spent 18 years at Elon and said he is happy to teach classes that are fun and enriching. Because physical education classes are worth one credit hour, there is some required coursework such as researching the history of the sport and reading articles. However, the class is mainly centered around learning through practice. 

“I want them to get exposure and learn through doing, so it's a very much hands-on activity type class,” Hedrick said. 

A student in Hedrick’s class, Lawhorn said she is grateful for the engagement.  

“I think it's really fun to have two times of the week carved out to just go and have fun, and not be in class and not take yourself seriously,” Lawhorn said. 

Senior Halley Telaak took a frisbee physical activity class last year with Lawhorn, and she enjoyed it so much that she decided to join Elon University’s club frisbee team. She similarly hopes to join the intramural pickleball team this year with her friends. As a senior, Telaak said the class is a great way to experience her last semester at Elon. 

“A few of my friends are in the class and a lot of us don't have a lot of classes this semester, so what better way to spend our last semester through playing pickleball and to play intramural sports,” Telaak said.

Elon’s physical activity courses vary by semester, but some of the previous offerings include Self Defense, Bait and Fly Casting, Whitewater Canoeing, Golf, Frisbee, Pickleball and Badminton. Hedrick said he hopes to see new sport combos held in the future. 

“I'd love to see a hybrid like disc golf, maybe a combo with ultimate and I don't know, some type of soccer,” Hedrick said. “I think there's a lot of sports that could hold their weight.”