Pickleball, one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports, with some 400,000 people playing, has come to Montclair. Thanks to Montclair’s Department of Recreation, an Adult Pickleball Clinic is now open to those who love the sport or are interested in finding out about it.
Despite its popularity, many are simply not familiar with pickleball. What is it? Where does it come from? Why is it so popular?
Pickleball was created in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum. As the story goes, the three returned from an afternoon of golf to find their families sitting around Pritchard’s Washington home with nothing to do. They decided to get everyone involved in a game of badminton, but realized they lacked sufficient equipment aside from the net. So, they decided to improvise, using ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball instead. At that moment, the sport of pickleball was born.
Pickleball has continued to grow over the past 50 years. Described as “oversized ping-pong,” this racquet sport has attracted players of all ages and athletic abilities. The simple rules of the game and the ease of learning to play has drawn many to give the game a try. Played on a badminton sized court with a tennis sized net, players use paddles to keep a plastic ball going back and forth.
Hope Kerr, who runs the Montclair Adult Pickleball Clinic, decided to start it after seeing how popular the sport was in places like Florida and thought “it was a great idea for Montclair.” After making a few phone calls to the department of recreation, Kerr managed to secure the town’s blessing to set up the clinic. The clinic is intended to teach people the game and give them an opportunity to play it.
“I had never played it (pickleball) before,” said Jessica Wolf, one of the women partaking in the clinic. Although Wolf has said its “hard to get used to playing with a paddle and a wiffle ball” and that initially the experience has been as she puts “humbling,” overall she says it has really been a lot of fun and she plans to continue playing
Kerr hopes that after taking the clinic people will begin to set up their own courts and play on their own.
The clinic runs for six weeks, with sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays. There is still an opportunity for those interested to register. Kerr believes the clinic will also be repeated so that as the game continues to catch on, more people can learn to play.
For more information on the pickleball clinic, contact Montclair Recreation, 973-509-4915. For more information on the sport of pickleball, visit USA Pickleball Association.