WHEATLAND – Platte County Parks and Recreation has added a new activity to help get residents up and moving this winter. Pickleball is now being offered Tuesday and Thursday at noon at the old junior high gym and Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m.
So what is Pickleball? It is a paddle sport that can be played at any age. The paddles are similar to ping pong paddles, but a little bigger and the ball is a wiffleball - a plastic ball with holes. The court is the same size as a badminton court or a slightly modified tennis court and a net lies near the ground that stretches across the court. Since the ball has holes, it slows it down so the players have more time to react and don’t need to be able to move super-fast. It is very popular in Arizona and California.
“Unlike tennis and racquetball it doesn’t beat your body up. I played with a 94-year-old guy when I went to Bainsbridge,” explained frequent player Paul Gallegos. “Older people can play and so can kids. I want to get the kids involved and get them off the street.”
The game was created by two families in Bainbridge Island, Wash when their kids complained of being bored in the summer. They wanted an active game that the whole family could play together. There have been some changes from the original game – mostly the paddles. They created the game with tennis racquets. Where the name came from is also under contention. One family says it was named for the family dog who used to run off with the balls, “Pickles.” The other family said it was named for the “pickle boat.” An obscure name for a boat rowing team with mismatched oarsmen.
Regardless of the name debate, Pickleball is played by over 2.5 million people in the U.S. and has tournaments and leagues around the country.
“We started hearing from a lot of different people all at once that we should offer it. We played on the tennis courts in the summer and were able to secure gym time this fall from the school and Piccadilly Play School,” said Parks and Rec director Steve Pollock. “Come and play, we’ll find someone for you to partner up with and the games go quick. This is an activity that older people catch on to and enjoy. You don’t have to chase a ball all over.”
There are paddles and balls to borrow thanks to a donation from Gallegos and Parks and Rec so there isn’t any cost to the player to go and get some exercise when the weather normally keeps people indoors.