Peter Robb returns a shot at Monday drop-in pickleball at the Silver Creek school gym. Sessions run from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. and paddles are provided, for those who need them, in the $2.00 drop-in fee. Ages 15 and up are welcome. Barry Stewart/Hope Standard

What is pickleball anyway?

The game with a strange name is attracting fans in Hope

Tennis, hockey, ping-pong, polo, cricket, softball: we play and watch lots of games with curious names that give the uninitiated no clue as to what they’re about.

With Finnish wife-carrying and English football, the sport befits the label.

But “pickleball”?

In over 20 minutes of online interviews with co-founder Barney McCallum of Seattle, the reason for the game’s name doesn’t get a moment’s mention. Curious.

When a burning question goes unanswered, that creates fertile ground for “alternative facts.”

As Tristan Baurick writes in the Kitsap Sun, “The sport was NOT named after a family dog,” an invented story that has been widely adopted as truth.

Baurick contacted Peggy Pritchard-Olson, the daughter of co-founder Joel Pritchard, who said, “It was not named after the dog because we didn’t get the dog until years after the game started. The dog was named after the game. Not the other way around.”

In competitive rowing, leftover rowers from various teams are cobbled into a spare boat, to compete against the teams that have cast them aside. This is known as the “pickle boat.”

Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan had been a competitive rower and noted the way pickleball cobbled together aspects of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Baurick quotes an article Joan wrote about the game and its name.

The story of a dog named Pickles snatching the loose ball and running away with it has seemingly edged out the pickle boat. Regardless, a game that was invented as a fun family pastime in the 1960s has taken root and is now popular around the world.

The game came to Hope in January of 2013, promoted by Jon Nigh, who had been introduced to it by his sister. This year, attendance has been strong for the Monday evening drop-in sessions at Silver Creek gym.

“The average has been 14 for the drop-ins,” said Mike Freimark, assistant manager of Recreation, Culture and Airpark Services. He said the Silver Creek sessions would continue till June 4, from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

“We’ll also be having drop-in pickleball in the arena (once the ice is removed) from May 7 to July 30,” added Freimark, who doubles as head coach of the RiverMonsters swim club.

A big advantage of the arena court — in addition to the available hours — is the generous space behind the baselines. In local elementary school gyms, there’s only a short step between the baseline and the wall.

Many of the rules formulated by the game’s founders are still in effect. The markings of a badminton court are used, as is a badminton net, though it is lowered to a height of 36 inches (91.4 cm).

The paddle is about twice the size of a table tennis paddle, with a smooth surface. The ball is a made of perforated plastic and is about the size of a tennis ball. Paddles are supplied by the rec centre but many players have their own.

The serve must be underhand and the return has to hit the ground first — as does the serving team’s first return. After that, you can hit the ball on the volley or after one bounce. Allow a second bounce and the play is over.

One big catch is the “kitchen” or no-volley zone near the net.

“The gall-darned kitchen,” groaned Peni Puschmann, Tuesday. “I always get called on it.”

Rules say you can only go into the kitchen to get a ball that has already bounced. This prevents players from acting as a blocker.

Puschmann said she got started with the game in 2014, at the former C.E. Barry gym.

“The next year, there wasn’t any interest — but I was thrilled to see so many coming out this year.

“When I first started, the ball seemed to go right through the paddle,” she said, laughing. “Now I’m able to direct it where I want it to go.”

While the drop-in sessions are open to ages 15 and up, Puschmann said it’s mostly seniors who have been turning up.

“If you have any kind of hand-eye coordination, you’re fine,” she said. “It gets hot, so wear light clothing. And don’t be discouraged when you first come out. We suggest watching YouTube first, to see what it’s about.

“Most people come out to have fun and be silly and have a laugh — for only two dollars. Where else can you do that?”

Is there more to this story?

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Chilliwack prolific offender wanted yet again

B.C.-wide warrant issued for David Allen Geoghegan

One man, two women charged with stolen pickup downtown Chilliwack

None of the three have criminal history in B.C.

Chilliwack-Hope MP says new summer jobs grant application no longer includes ‘values test’

Those with anti-abortion beliefs left out last year because of requirement to respect the Charter

Agassiz Community Gardens hoping to find new home at old McCaffrey school

The society has been looking for a new location since its previous gardens were sold in October

Kent looking to replace Ferny Coombe pool with indoor facility

The facility being built is dependent on grant funding from the province and federal government

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Judge denies requests from Calgary couple charged in son’s death

David and Collet Stephan wanted $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills

Explosion sends B.C. firefighter to hospital

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Ex-Mountie investigating ‘Surrey six’ murders pleads guilty to obstruction

Derek Brassington entered his plea in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

RECALL: Salmon Village maple salmon nuggets

Customers warned not to eat product due to possible Listeria contamination

Most Read