Ethan Godfrey, Program Coordinator of Competitive Sports at Fairfield University, hatched an idea that would make involvement and demand skyrocket: the up and coming sport of pickleball would now be offered to students.

He shared that, over the summer, many students reached out to him asking to bring Intramural Pickleball to Fairfield University. He fulfilled this wish in communication to students at the beginning of the year.

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, Godfrey sent out an email blast to all members of Recreation@Fairfield. Along with announcing the new Fairfield University IMLeagues app, he unveiled that two Pickleball leagues, Men’s and Co-Rec, would be slotting into the recreational offerings alongside some familiar faces in 3v3 basketball, volleyball, flag football and soccer.

Godfrey thought that such a pickleball program would garner interest, but not nearly the level he expected; he opened 40 spots for teams (20 Men’s, 20 Co-Rec) which completely filled up within 45 minutes of the registration window opening. 

Within a week, over 112 teams had signed up, according to Godfrey. “And counting,” he clarified.

Due to this, there is currently a waitlist for teams to get into the “main roster” of teams in the league. In a Sept. 8 email to registrants, he considered it “a good problem to have!”

At its early stages of planning, Godfrey realized how much the faculty on campus loved the up-and-coming sport. “Over the summer, Betsy Blagys [Assistant Director of Fitness and Programming] put together a Faculty/Staff Summer League, where she was able to gather 70-plus members on campus!” he stated. “This was a no-brainer to incorporate this into an intramural sport for our students to enjoy too.”

Over the summer, Blagys and her staff used tape to outline three courts in the Leslie C. Quick Jr. RecPlex Fieldhouse. Paddles and balls were provided to participants. 

Since the summer saw an informal league take place, there will not be much setup involved in the league itself. However, Garrett Nelson ‘24, one of two Head Supervisors, has helped prepare officials and scorekeepers for the new program. 

According to him, some officials are being trained to officiate pickleball games, while others work to secure court space. “We have also secured court space to have programming run nearly every day of the week,” he mentioned.

Captains of teams have also attended meetings with Godfrey and intramural supervisors to best understand the rules of the league, the restrictions on forfeits and other information. 

“Captains have attended meetings to understand the rules as well as the department’s expectations for the year. In conclusion, it is shaping up to be a great year for intramural sports,” Nelson shared.

Godfrey believes that the rapid growth of the new intramural offering is sure to be a hit on campus. “I am absolutely thrilled about this new program,” he stated. “I believe it will contribute significantly to the overall well-being of our students and I’m looking forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on our campus!”

Pickleball has seen large growth around the Fairfield County area in recent months. According to the town of Fairfield’s official website, there are 13 pickleball court locations for players to play at. The town’s website also states that they offer an open league to any player of any skill level.

With the new “IMLeagues Fairfield” app, users now have access to a full interface that includes rulebooks for all intramural offerings and links to schedules, announcements and the intramural handbook.

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