The local pickle-ball league capped its summer season recently, and growing numbers and a new home-court advantage have those close to the game in great spirits.
Last Friday 30 people were at the Parkskville Community Park tennis courts for the year-ending Mexican Madness Pickle-ball Tournament.
The tourney was three hours long, each team got in eight games followed by pizza and goodies.
“It was great,” enthusiastic pickle-ball booster Gereth McCaskill said of the turnout , adding that all told they had over 50 players (which is up from last year) turn out this summer every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
Her and her husband Gordon Waterhouse run an ongoing pickle-ball drop-in session for PGOS at BSS.
“Our difficulty is places to play,” said Gereth. “If the parks board hadn’t painted those lines we wouldn’t have had anywhere to play this summer. I worked on that for about 18 months and they did it, and oh, it’s made such a big difference.”
The town of Qualicum Beach she says is also working on getting in on the action.
In the meantime, a new generation of players are being introduced to the game in high schools throughout BC.
Pickle-ball she points out “is the fastest growing game in North America and it’s part of their curriculum now at BSS and KSS and it’s in all of the high schools up island and down island . . . and Nanaimo has a very large group.”
Gereth and Gordon have been playing pickle-ball for three years - pickle-ball is played in the B.C. Games, at tournaments across Canada and the USA and locally in Nanaimo.
The court size is similar to a doubles badminton court (20x44 feet) and employs a paddle similar to ping pong. The ball is like a whiffle ball, and games are singles or doubles.
It’s a game for all ages. “Anyone who has played a racquet sport in the past would be able to learn easily,” says Gereth, adding: “we will continue to play outdoors at the community park tennis courts (weather permitting) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings (9 a.m. start). For anyone interested in trying their hand at the game, PGOSA has a free pickle-ball drop-in on Wednesday evenings at Ballenas.”
High School from 7 - 9 p.m. starting Sept. 19 for the fall/winter schedule.
INSIDE THE GAME
According to pickleball.com the mini-tennis game called Pickle-ball was created during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island - a short ferry ride from Seattle, WA.
The original purpose of the game was to provide a sport for the entire family, according to co-inventors U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum.
How did the game of Pickle-ball get it’s name?
Pickles was the family dog that would chase after the errant balls and then hide in the bushes, thus Pickle’s ball which was later shortened to the namesake of Pickle-ball. Initially, families played Pickle-ball in their backyards on a hard surface, on driveways, and on residential dead-end streets. Since the mid-1970’s, Pickle-ball has grown and expanded from a family activity game to a paddle court sport with formalized rules. Now, over 45 years later Pickle-ball is played in thousands of school P.E. programs, parks and recreation centres, correctional facilities, camps, YMCA’s and retirement communities. This sport is becoming very popular among active senior adults at community centres.