Pickleball with Rubia Byrd

Debbie Snapp
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America, and ambassadors of the game are available to demonstrate to those interested in Monticello... at your convenience. Rubia Byrd and other players of the sport are on a mission to promote pickleball at schools, senior centers, and at parks and recreation facilities. Byrd is Pickleball Ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association and a volunteer for the Monticello/Jefferson County area.
The game does have a hidden secret... exercising without noticing. Players of the game are encouraging others to become more active by doing something you will enjoy while benefiting your health at the same time.
Anybody can play pickleball! The group already has donated three nets, balls, and paddles. A USAPA grant was written to get one of the nets. Volunteer players have been very busy locating gymnasiums and outdoor courts to play in Jefferson County. From 3:15 to 6:15 p.m. on Fridays interested parties can play on the Jefferson Somerset K-12 outside court. This is a social, competitive, and contagious game with planned tournaments for the future.
You don’t have to find someone to come with you, come alone. Just come on out and join the fun. There will be a sign-up sheet and when there are four players for doubles, the game begins. There are already players in Madison and Tallahassee who will come regularly to Monticello to build an interest for more local players; and there are several adults in Monticello who know about the game and are just waiting for a place to play. There are 150+ players in Tallahassee.
Monticello is Ambassador Byrd's hometown. Her parents, John and Lizzie Byrd, lived and worked in Monticello, while raising 14 children. She grew up in Monticello, graduating from Howard Academy. After graduating from FAMU she moved to Jacksonville. She went to summer school and graduated from Clark Atlanta University. She worked at FAMU before relocating to Los Angeles, CA. For 39 years she worked as a Media Specialist. After retiring at the young age of 75, she returned to the slower and quieter life of her native North Florida.
In a neighborhood east of Tallahassee, halfway between Florida’s Capitol City and Monticello, Rubia Byrd built her field of dreams... her Pickleball 'court of dreams.' It’s located in the driveway of her home. This is where she quickens her pace and reaction time to keep up with the fast-paced game played on a 22’ by 44’ court and hears the constant, distinct sound of the Pickleball hitting her paddle.
“Pickleball is my friend,” she says. “It’s now in my heart. That's why I want pickleball to come alive in Monticello, my hometown.” She holds monthly gatherings on her driveway court.
Who would have thought that it was just four years ago when she picked up a paddle, after seeing a sign at the Tallahassee Senior Center advertising the weekly 'come one, come all' invitation to try one of the hottest new sports in the country.
Byrd was a tennis player in her earlier years, and she thought the two games had similarities. “I just walked in and there was someone to teach me the game,” she recalled. “It’s a very good game and my reaction time to the quick game is good. It became something I want to do every day.”
Her love for the game has reached the point where she wants others to experience the camaraderie and competition of Pickleball. Her Ambassador position allows for her to promote the sport of Pickleball and the USAPA. She is one of over 100 USAPA Pickleball Ambassadors in the State of Florida and one of three in the Tallahassee area. She may be contacted at 850-567-3633 for more information and schedules.