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Pickleball the new craze among seniors in Utah

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Jul 12th, 2013 @ 9:12am

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SALT LAKE CITY — A relatively new sport is becoming the new craze among seniors in Utah.

Imagine playing a miniature version of tennis on what looks similar to a badminton court with an enlarged ping pong paddle while hitting a large Wiffle ball. It's a real sport, called Pickleball.

People like John Rasmuson play it as much as they can.

"The game was invented in the 60s, but it's been reinvented by baby boomers who can't play tennis anymore, and baby boomers with bad knees," he said.

Rasmuson said it's a fast paced game, but it's low impact. He believes it takes more intelligence and technique than strength and speed. He originally played at the Holladay Lions Recreation Center, but he brought the game to the Millcreek Senior Center.

"The Pickleball wave is coming from two directions. It's coming from St. George and Ogden," Rasmuson said. "Those are the Pickleball Meccas in Utah. There are probably 30 courts in St. George. There is a lovely Pickleball complex in Ogden."

Center manager Bev Uipi said it's becoming incredible popular; they usually have lines of people waiting to play.

"They are here at the opening, and they close it down," Uipi said.

At first, they only offered Pickleball one day a week, but their members loved it so much they petitioned the center to offer it more often.

The majority of these players have never played until they came here.(They have) a little bit of fear about their joints... to their surprise, they come back.

–Ogden Pickleball center manager Bev Uipi

"The majority of these players have never played until they came here," Uipi said. "(They have) a little bit of fear about their joints. How quick can they be? Are they athletic? Do they still have it? To their surprise, they come back."

So, why is it called Pickleball? The legend goes the creator of the game, a former U.S. Congressman from Seattle, had a dog that would always chase the ball. The dog was named Pickles. But, there's some debate on whether or not that story is true.

Some people say the congressman's wife named it Pickleball after they made the court from the remnants of their damaged tennis court. She was a competitive rower, and a Pickle Boat is made up from the leftovers of other boats and crews.


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