People often equate Pickleball with seniors — that is, if you’re playing Pickleball you’re over 65. Joni Thornley doesn’t disagree with that but adds some balance to the description — “it’s loved by seniors, but it’s played by everyone.”
Smiths Falls Pickleball was initially introduced to the town by Linda Pond but now Anne Miskelly has taken over the role of growing it and enticing new and curious players to give it a try. Miskelly describes it as “an old sport coming back into vogue.” It was invented by a couple in 1965 (which gives it a half-century history). The origin of the name has two stories 1) from the term pickle boat, which refers to the last boat to return with its catch 2) the inventors’ cocker spaniel was named Pickles. Whenever the ball came his way he ran off with it…making it Pickle’s ball.
It’s an easy game to both learn and play, says Miskelly. It’s not expensive — all you need a paddle and a ball, similar to a wiffle ball, to get started. We have extra paddles for new players to try out. The court is similar to a tennis court but with a lower net, and the area of a badminton court, and you usually play in pairs. To get an idea of what a game is like, plug pickleball into YouTube.
Dave Thornley looks at it as graduating from tennis to Pickleball. “It’s slower, you don’t have to run as much, it’s good exercise, it’s easy to pick up, the ball doesn’t come as hard,” and finally he adds “you can play when you get old.” Miskelly says often golfers play Pickleball in the winter after the first snow flies and describes tennis players as being good Pickleball players, too.
So far there are 45 interested people on Miskelly’s email list including a couple of 20-year-olds and Leo, who’s 79. Smiths Falls Pickleball is open to anyone over 18 with an average age range between 40 and 60.
Miskelly is hoping that on October 18, the first night of indoor play this fall, that others will come out to see what the game’s about. Chimo School is the new winter home of the game on Monday and Thursday evenings run from 6:30 to 8:30 and the cost is nominal at $5. After trying it out for 2 nights then a membership fee of $20 will be required to cover expenses.
The Town has agreed, with the resurfacing of its tennis courts (to happen early spring), and Pickleball lines and dimensions will be incorporated into the new look. The Town has bought new pickleball nets as well as some paddles, and Miskelly’s hope is the Town will stay involved and help promote the game. There is even talk between some of the towns of a round-robin tournament next summer.
One of the most important aspects of the game to Joni is the camaraderie. She says there’s no rush in the game. “It’s patience. We show our best qualities, no one is negative, we’re out there having fun.” Dave adds to that. “There are some players who are more competitive, but they still take it easy and joke around.” They all help each other to play the sport better.
For information, call Anne Miskelly at 613-283-0482, or send her an email at email@example.com.
- October 18
- Chimo School, 11 Ross Street, Smiths Falls
- Monday and Thursday nights
- Cost: $5
- Wear comfortable clothing and running shoes