Pickle Ball athletes during a serve. The game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Pickle Ball craze takes over Kitimat’s 50-plus crowd

A mix of badminton and ping pong, Pickle Ball is gaining popularity in Kitimat.

It’s a craze taking over the 50-plus crowd in Kitimat.

A new game played Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Riverlodge, and it’s an assortment of a few games at once.

And it’s called Pickle Ball.

Describing the game in its very basic form, you could say it’s a life-sized version of table tennis.

Which you might just say is tennis. But it’s not quite that.

“It’s played with a paddle similar to ping pong, and the dimensions of the court are that of badminton,” explained Pauline Morgan, who brought the game back to Kitimat with husband Mark.

It’s an activity that spread here, from players in Arizona, where the Morgans were staying last winter.

“We’re retired now and we went to Arizona and where we were staying there was a large club playing Pickle Ball,” she said.

After a few lessons, they found they really enjoyed it.

“My husband played badminton and I played racket ball so we were familiar with the racket sports,” she said, adding the people playing in Arizona were very enthusiastic.

Pauline also says it’s a good challenging sport.

“Most of the time you play two people on each side but it’s also a singles game.”

Right at the start Kitimat had upwards of 10 people playing, which has grown since those first few weeks.

The Kitimat Snowflake Seniors Centre programmer Jocelyn Iannarelli pushed to get the game going, and the director for the local zone of the BC Seniors Games Bill Whitty was also instrumental in getting it all set up in Kitimat.

After a hiatus over the summer, Pickle Ball is back again, and the ballers meet from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Riverlodge every Tuesday and Thursday.

If you’ve come this far and are still wondering why it’s called Pickle Ball, well it’s more a name from its history rather than for a description of the game itself.

The lore is that the game is named after it’s inventors’ dog.

Word was, explained Pauline from her own research, the dog Pickle would grab the ball from the game and take it to hiding.

It’s a cute story but apparently the dog was added to the family of Joan and  Joel Pritchard, a congressman in the United States, two years after the game was invented.

The dog, in fact, was named for the sport, not the other way around.

Joan Pritchard herself would explain the game’s origin in a column in the News and Sentinel of West Virginia.

“The name of the game became Pickle Ball, after I said it reminded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats,” she explained in that 2008 article, which is still available online.