Back in November of 2003, Joe Murphy and a group of members from the Patterson Club in Fairfield, Connecticut were trying to get a Saturday morning paddle game. However, they still wanted to be able to go to their children’s basketball, soccer, travel hockey, football games, and ballet dances.
Playing paddle on Saturday morning clearly conflicted with their ability to spend time with their family. I am sure that you get the picture. However, Joe had a pretty clever idea that allowed him to do just that: play paddle on Saturday morning AND spend time with his family. How? Simply playing at 6:00am and being home before 8:00am. Just like that, “Sunrise Paddle” was created.
This past Saturday morning PaddleTimes witnessed the 193rd consecutive Sunrise Paddle game and participated in it. What do we mean by “consecutive?” Well, they started back in November of 2003 and played through mid- March 2004. Since the Fall of 2004, Sunrise Paddle starts mid-October and ends mid-March. They have not missed one game in nine seasons. They even played in full-on blizzards and days of almost 50 mile/hr winds and sideways rain.
Besides Joe, the first foursome of Sunrise Paddle was completed with Matt Terry, Sean Kelley, Mike Hoover. They sat in the paddle hut at 5:30 AM drinking coffee looking out at the black pre-dawn sky and one lit paddle court and asked:
Are we nuts?!”
This last Saturday there were sixteen players ready to play by 6:00am and eight more took the second shift at 7:30am. When they say that at 6:00am paddle balls are up in the air, they mean it. If any player happens to be late, they receive the call at home at 6:01am. Usually the wife will pick up and what could have been a great Saturday of paddle and time with the family can become a nightmare. Sunrise Paddle players know to be on time.
The tradition says that every Sunrise Paddle “virgin” has to sing in front of everyone before his first match. However, we found out that this rule doesn’t apply for paddle players whose first language is not English. If you are lucky like us, a Sunrise Paddle veteran will sponsor you so you can start receiving e-mail invites. Scott Slobin, Director of Racquets at the Patterson Club and Sunrise Paddle veteran, “suggested” PaddleTimes to be on-time and told us:
You haven’t really played paddle until you’ve played Sunrise Paddle”
In a few months Sunrise Paddle will celebrate their 200th consecutive crazy paddle game that begins at night and ends when the sun rises in the east. Until then, Joe and his gang of 120ish paddlers will continue playing at 6:00am. This coming December 24th they are expecting three shifts of four courts each, starting at 6:00am. Of course, the music is always blasting and the fun and camaraderie couldn’t be better.