London Parks & Rec offers pickleball

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(Posted Jan. 23, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Tammy Braskett has wanted to bring pickleball to London ever since she became the city’s parks and recreation director a couple of years ago.

“Pickleball is kind of the rage in the country right now,” she said, adding that she learned of the sport a couple of years ago when some former colleagues took it up in retirement. “It’s always been my goal to offer it here.”

That time has finally come. Between youth basketball and volleyball games and practices, Braskett has found court time for pickleball open gyms.

The sessions are free and open to residents who are 40 or older. Dates and times are Feb. 13, Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to noon and Feb. 14, Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the London Community Center gym, 60 S. Walnut St.

So, what is pickleball? It’s a cross between badminton, tennis and table tennis. Games are played either one-on-one or two-on-two on a 20×44-foot court. Equipment includes a perforated ball similar to a Wiffle ball and solid paddles made of wood or composite materials.

Only the serving side can score. All serves must be underhand. A no-volley zone known as “the kitchen” is marked off seven feet in front of the net on both sides. Typically, games are played to 11 points.

The Community Center gym can accommodate four pickleball courts. Braskett said she already has heard from people who are interested in playing, some of whom who have experience with the sport.

She said she will see how the open gyms go, then hopefully create a league. If the sport catches on locally, she’d also like to see the city add some outdoor pickleball courts.

For now, Braskett is sticking with the 40 and older age requirement. She said that could change. For more information, call (740) 852-4462 or email tbraskett@ci.london.oh.us. No registration is required.

History of pickleball

Pickleball was invented in the mid-1960s when one day, Joel Pritchard, who later became a senator and lieutenant governor for the state of Washington, came home with his golfing buddies to find their families bored. They tried to set up badminton but didn’t have a shuttlecock. So, they improvised, using a Wiffle ball, lowered net, and paddles they made out of plywood.

As for how the sport got its name, one story says it was named after the family’s dog, Pickles. In other accounts, Pritchard’s wife, Joan, says the dog didn’t come into the family until after the game was invented. The story goes that Joan named the sport after a pickle boat, the last boat to finish in a race. The idea was that, like the game they created from this and that, a pickle boat is made up of oarsmen chosen from the leftovers of other boats.

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