The Drill: The game with the funny name is growing in popularity
WORTHINGTON -- “Pickleball,” according to legend, was created in 1965 in Washington state. Three fathers, the story goes, invented the game for their kids who’d become bored with typical summertime sports.
Today the sport is big-time all over the country, and in other countries, too. Here in Worthington, there are three popular places to play it -- at outdoor courts next to Centennial Field, at the Worthington Area YMCA, and at the old YMCA building now known as the Center for Active Living.
Wanna know how pickleball came to be known as pickleball?
There’s more than one story. One is that the wife of one of the three credited Washington inventors thought the hybrid of multiple sports reminded her of the pickle boat where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Another story is that it was named after the dog of one of the inventors, Pickles, who often took the ball and ran with it.
Choose which story you like best.
The Globe wanted to give pickleball -- this relatively new sport that’s taking Worthington by storm -- its due. So we did a Drill episode with devoted pickle-baller and cheerful pickleball ambassador Julie Haas.
“I always tell players it’s a cross between tennis and ping-pong,” she told us recently after engaging in a spirited game at the Center for Active Living. “You use a more solid paddle like you do in ping-pong, but you’re on a court like tennis. But it’s a shorter court.”
Anyone can learn the game. But the scoring system might take a little longer.
In pickleball doubles, both players take their turn at serving. So the server must say something like, “Five-three-two,” meaning his or her team is leading 5-3 in points, and the number two server is about to serve.
Oh, never mind. Haas says pickleball is just plain ol’ fun. And given the amount of Worthington area players who are ardent players, she has to be right.
You can watch the Globe’s pickleball Drill video online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sampling of the interview we had with Julie:
QUESTION: How competitive can pickleball become? Are there others who just like to play a friendly game?
ANSWER: “The nice thing about pickleball is you can play as aggressively or as non-aggressively as you want. I tend to play with the morning group that plays a little harder. But we’ve had people who are in their 80s playing. It’s really for anybody. When my son comes to town -- he’s only 43 -- he loves to come down and play. And he thinks that we play pretty good.”
Q: How easy is it to learn?
A: “We’re certainly willing to teach people. Come down to the Center for Active Living in the morning, anytime after 8. The courts are open.”
Q: How did pickleball make its way to Worthington?
A: “I first heard about pickleball when people in Arizona and Florida have been playing it for quite a while. … All the snowbirds came back and said, ‘Oh, we really should get pickleball started.’ … It’s really a senior game that has really taken off.”