A different kind of sport – with definitely a different kind of name – is coming to Hay River.
It’s called pickleball.
That is a combination of tennis, table tennis and badminton, which was invented in the United States in the mid-1960s and has been growing in popularity ever since.
Players use solid paddles to hit a ball back and forth over a net.
“It’s become a favourite for older adults,” said Dale Loutit, the recreation programmer supervisor with the Town of Hay River.
“It’s been on my radar for some time, a couple of years at least,” she said, noting the sport was suggested to her by a community resident.
Loutit has ordered equipment for four pickleball courts and plans to set them up on the floor of the arena.
“So that’s our idea,” she said. “Then you can just draw the lines.”
Loutit is not aware of pickleball ever being played in Hay River before.
She has not played the game herself, but has researched it by watching videos on the Internet.
“It looks really fun,” she said.
Loutit thinks it will be popular with all ages.
“It will be trial and error for sure to see what works and if it’s for certain groups or you can mix groups,” she said.
The ice was set to come off the arena on April 8. However, the pickleball courts won’t be immediately set up.
“They’re not even here yet,” said Loutit on April 5.
She expects the courts to be set up in early May.
“I hope that it will create something for people to do in their leisure time that’s physically active and fun,” she said.
Loutit said the first step is just to offer the sport to get people to try it.
She also noted that pickleball is low-key enough that people can socialize while they play, and have friendly competitions.
There are a couple of stories about how the game came to be called pickleball.
The most common explanation is that it has a boating inspiration, and was bestowed by the game’s creators who lived on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
The name is apparently based on a pickle boat, which is the last vessel to return to port from fishing and the last boat to finish a rowing race.