Reference Desk Include

Pickleball draws avid players to Northville Community Center


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  Photos by Liz Cezat.
What's the game with a funny name that has become fanatically popular in recent years? It's pickleball, a moderately strenuous game played indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a short tennis net. It's a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Players use a large paddle to hit a plastic ball with holes. Points are scored while serving. The game is played as doubles or singles.

At the Northville Community Center, pickleball has caught on like wildfire. Men and women age 50 and up gather at the Community Center Wednesday through Sunday afternoons and evenings to play a sport that's part athletic and part social.

Nancy Kossak, of Northville, says she likes the competitiveness of the game. "It's a challenge and good exercise. You can play year-round and the gym is air conditioned in the summer."

Bill George, of Canton, says he plays the game because it improves his mobility. "As you get older, you don't have to run around the court as much because they are half the size of a tennis court." He adds, "And, I like the people."

"I'm obsessed with the game," says Maryann Collins, of New Hudson.

Tami Fontaine, of Westland, noted, "You can come alone and play with others. You never have to worry about not having a team mate."

"It's the best thing," said Moe, of Canton. "It's not as boring as walking,"

Michael Namm, of Novi, runs a pickleball clinic at Hillside School gym every Wednesday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The drop-in clinic costs a couple bucks to learn how to play. He notes there are rules and strategies that players should know before playing a game at the Community Center.

Attire is typically shorts and a short sleeve shirt because players move quickly and work up a sweat.

"Once they are hooked, they never give up the game," Namm said.

According to the USAPA, pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Three dads - Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum - created the game for their kids, who were bored with their usual summertime activities. The game has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For information, call Parks and Rec at 248.349.0203.

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