Pickleball: Good For The Heart, Good For The Soul

My Y Story: Dianne West and Marty Thebodeau

Dianne West And Marty Thebodeau


Having retired in 2019, both would happily play the game seven days a week if they could, and they can’t say enough positive things about the sport. “A friend of mine is a pickleball player and she suggested I give it a try”, said Dianne. She went on to say, “I was hooked right away, it is really addictive and it is easier than tennis, which is harder on the knees and joints. In fact, many players are former tennis players and some play both sports.”

Dianne and Marty both said that pickleball appeals to the older community, although it has more recently attracted younger generations, and they are very happy about that. To quote Dianne, “You still get plenty of exercise but it’s just not as stressful on the body, and it is a very social game. The Nashua Area Group is a very positive pickleball family that consists of kind people who play at various levels, and who interact well with each other regardless of their level of play.” “The game is full of energy”, she added.

Pickleball at the Y is quite popular. A lot of people enjoy the game because it’s less strenuous and they can play at their own pace. It is a bit more leisurely than playing tennis and is mainly played as doubles. In our classes, we teach doubles because that is the more common format than singles. There is half as much court space that players have to cover and that makes the game more accessible than some other sports”, said the YMCA Sports Director, Andy MacEachern, who teaches Pickleball 101 at the Westwood Park Y. “We go over the basics of serving, rallying, volleying, dinking (hitting the ball lightly over the net), and scoring. It takes about two to three classes to learn the game and we put all that into practice by playing scrimmages that last 10 to 15 minutes. When first learning about pickleball, the scoring can be confusing because the server announces three numbers which is why I receive thanks for us being patient while they learn about scoring.”

Marty and Dianne are excited that pickleball player, Steve Harriman, is joining the Y as another instructor. Both said “Steve is a great player who has a lot of knowledge, and he will be a teacher to beginner and intermediate players who will gain solid instruction.”

Marty shares Dianne’s exuberance of the sport. She said “When I retired in January of 2019, I met two golf friends at the Westwood Park Y because they said ‘you just have to come to the Y to learn how to play!’ She went on to say “I was addicted after my first visit and I signed up to be a Y member right then and there!” Tending to love sports and exercise, she enjoys the camaraderie and the new friendships she has made. Marty continued by saying “Quite honestly, I didn’t even know about pickleball before this and I 100% welcomed the pickleball experience. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have pickleball in my life.”

These two Y members hit it off from the get-go and 3 years ago, they began issuing what initially was a newsletter and is now more like a little magazine, with the idea that it would keep all of the players connected year-round. Today, the total amount of readers is 320 when it began with only 20 .

They also chatted about starting a charitable endeavor and agreed to collect brand new clothing for mothers and their children who have been given temporary housing at Marguerite’s Place in Nashua.

The effort is named “Operation Warm and Fuzzy” and they have already started the collection this Fall which is its third year. To quote Dianne, “When I worked for a local police department, I heard prosecutors speaking highly of Marguerite’s Place.” Marty chimed in and added “I have known about Marguerite’s Place and feel that it is definitely a worthy cause”. If people don’t want to shop, they donate cash and the shopping is done by Marty. Dianne shared, “It feels like we can make a difference”.

Last year, about $1400 worth of new hats, mittens, warm pajamas, scarves, socks and jackets were donated.

The game of pickleball is played by many Nashua area people on outdoor courts during the milder months, many of whom are Y members. They, along with Dianne and Marty are very happy that additional pickleball court time on Sunday mornings.


Starting this month at the Westwood Park Y, pickleball hours are expanded:

Monday – Friday:

  • 6 courts

  • 6:00AM-8:00AM, 8:00AM-10:AM, 10:00AM-12:00PM



  • 4 courts

  • 5:00PM-7:00PM



  • 4 courts

  • 8:30AM-10:30AM, 10:30AM-12:30PM


To learn more about pickleball at the Westwood Park Y, contact Andy MacEachern at AMaceachern@nmymca.org, or call 603-402-2258.

If you’d like to learn how to play or just want to improve your game, register for a beginner or intermediate pickleball class today!


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