Pickleball back at Madawaska outdoor rink

·3 min read

As of July 5, Pickleball has arrived back in Madawaska. This sport is described as a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis, played on a smaller court than tennis with a paddle similar to a table tennis paddle and a plastic ball with holes in it. Being played at the Madawaska outdoor rink every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., seasonal resident Judith White talks about Pickleball and how it came back to Madawaska post COVID-19.

White, a seasonal resident in Madawaska, says that she was just looking for a good game of Pickleball and decided to take action. She got in touch with the township, who were interested in getting Pickleball started back up, as the couple who organized it before COVID-19 had stopped doing so. Councillor Joe Florent wasn’t sure of the identity of the couple who organized it before COVID-19, but he knew they were campers from Riverland camp.

“I’m in favour of any activity that gets people off the couch and into the community. Particularly seniors, any activity that stimulates us mentally or physically is beneficial,” he says.

The first post COVID-19 (in terms of lockdowns and restrictions) game was on July 5 at 6 p.m. at the Madawaska outdoor rink, which White offered to organize.

“So far, we’ve had an attendance of four in one night as weather hindered play the second night. There are two outdoor courts and all required equipment is available if players don’t have their own,” she says.

White explains that Pickleball is a fun, low impact, easily accessible social game for all ages, though the game played in Madawaska is for 18 years of age and older. She says it’s a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis that’s played on a smaller court than tennis with a paddle similar to a table tennis paddle and a plastic ball with holes in it.

Pickleball was created by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum from Washington state back in 1965 as a game that the whole family could enjoy and play together. The first permanent Pickleball court was constructed in 1967, while a corporation was established five years later to protect this new sport’s creation. The first Pickleball tournament was held in Tukwila, Washington in 1976. It has since exploded in popularity across the U.S., Canada and all around the world.

Some may wonder how Pickleball got its somewhat unusual name. According to OnixPickleball.com, there are two differing accounts of how the sport became named Pickleball. The first one is that Pritchard’s wife Joan began calling it that because it reminded her of the pickle boat in crew where the oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. The second account says that it was named after Pritchard’s dog Pickles, who would chase the ball around the court and run with it.

White says that anybody who’s had any time playing a racquet sport will catch on quickly [to Pickleball].

“Pickleball is great physical and mental exercise, where the laughter is contagious and new friends are made. The first time you pick up a racquet, you’re hooked,” she says. “Hopefully, we’ll get more attendance as word spreads.”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times

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