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Pickleball shows increasing popularity within Farmington Journey program

Pickleball enthusiast Joyce Rogers loves the sport and is playing for her second year in Farmington. Kara Hildreth/ contributor1 / 3
Pickleball is open to the public for all ages twice a week at Farmington Elementary School via the Farmington Journey program and has shown to be very popular. Kara Hildreth/ contributor 2 / 3
Pickleball is a paddle sport with a wiffle ball played on a badminton-sized court and with a tennis-style net. Games can be played with two to four players. Kara Hildreth/ contributor3 / 3

FARMINGTON — Most who give pickleball a try are not fickle about this growing paddle recreation. The game originated in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Wash., by some gentlemen who improvised the game with a lower badminton net and some fabricated paddles from plywood.

The funny name "pickle" was fondly given when a family member said the game reminded her of a pickle boat where oarsmen were chosen from leftovers from other boats.

Pickleball is a paddle sport with a wiffle ball played on a badminton-size court and with a tennis-style net. Games can be played with two to four players. The paddle is larger than a pingpong paddle and the game is played with a larger ball that is closer to the size of a wiffle ball, but the ball's composition is thicker.

Pickleball enthusiast Joyce Rogers loves the sport and is playing indoors for her second year in Farmington.

"I started looking for something to fill my evenings with activity rather than always running to the club — everyone just shows up and we do become friends," she added.

Rogers, 64, said her fellow participants travel from Hastings and south metro suburbs to play as part of the new Farmington Journey program. Any age adult and families and youth are welcome to come join the fun.

The sport is a growing trend with seniors, though, and many seniors play in retirement communities in Texas and Florida. Snowbirds have learned to play down south and have brought the sport home across the nation to play in the winter.

Keeping active all year long is important to Rogers who likes to golf, bike and walk during the warmer months, but admits she is not a winter outdoors person and does not engage in traditional winter sports.

"It is just a fun activity to meet friends and have fun," she said.

Rogers hopes her group can find a place to play the sport outdoors this summer.

"A lot of people are getting involved and not just those who are seniors and who are in retirement because it is fun to do and easy and you do not need any special equipment other than a racquet and a ball," Rogers added.

She recommends anyone who is curious just show up and try a few games. Pickleball is one adult program offered through Farmington Journey organized by Farmington Public Schools Community Education and the Farmington's Parks and Recreation department.

The purpose of Farmington Journey is to inspire older, mature adults to enhance their lives by offering opportunities and experiences to ignite learning, health and happiness through shared exploration and collaboration.

Missie Kohlbeck, supervisor for the city's parks and recreation programs, said the city tried offering pickleball six years ago.

"It is one of those sports that totally made sense and it worked well with community education since they have access to the gyms," Kohlbeck said. The city owned the equipment of the paddles and nets, so it was a perfect collaboration to offer pickleball.

"It is something to keep people active at all ages and it is most attractive to our Baby Boomers bunch," Kohlbeck said.

Farmington may offer pickleball at an outdoor park if that becomes part of a future master parks plan. Anyone is welcome to play pickleball on a tennis court during the spring and summer months, but they would need to draw lines and boundaries for the sport.

Mandy Clementz, adult and community coordinator with Farmington Community Education, said pickleball is the most popular activity within the Farmington Journey programming.

"We have had really positive feedback and everyone seems to like it, and we have even had a request for an outdoor court and it is a nice way to meet people," she said.

Farmington Journey will be meet 5-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through May at Farmington Elementary School. The cost is $3.

Visit www.farmingtonce.com or the Farmington Community Education Facebook page for more information.

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