Jennifer Hadley would not describe herself as a physically active person — she’s more of a craftsy type. Definitely not the sort that would use her lunch hour to get outside for a quick game.
The rising popularity of the sport in the Lewiston-Clarkston valley is drawing players of all sorts, many of whom, like Hadley, have little — if any — athletic background. Hadley got roped into a game by her sister, and that’s all it took.
“I played once and got addicted,” Hadley said.
She’s not exaggerating. She watches YouTube videos to learn techniques. She’s taking a pickleball clinic through the WA/ID Volunteer Center. She plays most days during her lunch hour now that she got a few friends at work hooked on the sport. And then there’s the evening or weekend games that might come up. Why?
“ ‘Cause it’s just so much fun,” Hadley said.
So much for not being a physically active person.
It’s a fairly simple game, which is why it appeals to all ages — from children to older adults. And unlike sports that require a unique skill set, you can feel fairly successful with pickleball right away, Hadley said.
If you’re curious to get in on the trend, here’s what you need to get started:
The rules. Pickleball is a cross between tennis and ping pong, played on a court that is about half the size of a tennis court. Sure, you can just read the rules online, but it’s a lot more fun to pick them up by just playing with people who know the rules. Keep reading to learn where to find these people.
A court. Last June, the Lewiston Parks and Rec department converted the two tennis courts at Sunset Park into six pickleball courts. They’re even lit until 11 p.m. Portable sets are also an option for those that have access to a large slab of concrete.
A friend. This is one game you can’t play alone. Fortunately, the pickleball crowd is a friendly sort. In fact, that’s a big reason Cary Dingman, who has been playing for about a year, loves the sport. People are inclusive and patient with new players, she said, something she’s found to be true of pickleball culture even outside the valley.
The Lewis-Clark Valley Pickleball Club hosts open play times mornings and evenings during the warmer months at Sunset Park. These are open to anyone, club members or not. You can even just go to watch — just be forewarned that you’re likely to get invited to play. Days and times change, depending on the season, but the times are posted at the courts and on their club page, which can be found at www.cityoflewiston.org/parksandrec and on the club’s Facebook page: search for “LC Valley Pickleball Club.”
If you’re interested in joining the club, a $10 membership fee will give you access to club equipment, put you on the email list for events and connect you with other players who might be up for a game outside of the regular club play times.
A paddle and ball. A pickleball is similar to a wiffle ball, but larger and heavier. A pickleball paddle is similar to a ping pong paddle, but a bit larger. Don’t have one? That’s where those friends will come in handy. If you come during the club’s open play times, you’ll have access to spare equipment, which you can try before investing in a paddle of your own.
Already play the sport or curious to watch? Here are details on this weekend’s tournament:
WHAT: “Fall Battle of the Paddles” Round Robin Pickleball Tournament
WHEN: 9 a.m.-noon Saturday; participants should arrive by 8:30 a.m., covered-dish lunch to follow
WHERE: Sunset Park, 2602 11th Ave., Lewiston
COST: Free; first 24-32 to register are guaranteed a spot, register by calling (208) 413-4605 or email firstname.lastname@example.org