Pickleball served up in Ashcroft

About a dozen fans of raquet sports attended a pickleball clinic in Ashcroft last week.

L-R: (Back) Maurice Praobec

L-R: (Back) Maurice Praobec

Maurice and Barb Parobec were in town to introduce the game of Pickleball to our community. They put on a two hour clinic at the Ashcroft tennis courts on Aug. 14. Maurice is an excellent player on the international level and is headed for the Pickleball World Championships in Japan in October. We were very fortunate to have a player of this caliber come to Ashcroft and conduct a free clinic.

You may ask yourself just what  pickleball is, just as I did when I first heard the name spoken. It is a combination of badminton, table tennis and tennis with a paddle and a wiffle ball.

The game began one summer afternoon in 1965 when Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell returned to his Bainbridge Island home after an afternoon of golf, the family was bored and Pritchard had a badminton court in his backyard. They found some racquets but no shuttlecocks so they replaced the shuttlecocks with a wiffle ball. The racquets were soon replaced with paddles very similar to ping pong paddles. The next weekend they introduced the game to their friend Barney McCallum and it took off. The game became such a hit that it required official rules.  These evolved as the game continued to grow.

Why the name pickleball? An excellent question and the answer is just as interesting.  Pritchard had a Cocker Spaniel named Pickles who loved stealing the wiffle balls when they were playing and hiding them in the bushes. He was not popular with the players but gained world recognition when it was named after him.

The game became such a hit with family and friends because it could be played by all ages, that in 1972 the three men copyrighted the rules and formed the U.S. PickleBall Association. In 1984 the U.S.A. Pickleball Association became the governing body for the sport and published its first official rulebook.

The sport became incredibly popular with elementary aged kids and seniors who had hung up their tennis and badminton racquets. Within the past few years it has grown very rapidly and courts are springing up everywhere.

I just wonder what Joel Pritchard and Pickles might think, were they here to see the game today.

All of those who attended the clinic had a wonderful time and are anxiously awaiting the next installment in September. Should you wish further information on the upcoming clinic, it will be posted in The Journal as we get closer. All who might have an interest are encouraged to keep your eyes open. Should you wish further information regarding the game you can contact Mike Baldwin at 250-452-9521.

Mike Baldwin