When Ryan Grasley was 15 years old, traditional sports such as baseball, basketball and football didn’t really appeal to him. One day while his brother was outside playing with his friends, Grasley observed that the game they were playing appeared to be fun as well as entertaining. He made his way outside and asked if he could join. From there on out his love for pickleball flourished. When people ask Grasley about pickleball, he simply describes the game as a mix of ping-pong, tennis and badminton. The game over the past years has been a popular exercise outlet for senior citizens, but in the past year younger players have picked up the pickleball paddle. “This game is really fun and really becomes addictive in away. This game is almost like tennis, but it has different unique rules. What it really comes down to is that this game is really about strategy. It’s not about how powerfully you can hit the ball, but rather ball placement,” said Grasley
The game of pickleball was invented in the Northwest on Bainbridge Island in the summer of 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and Bill Bell, a successful businessman. Pickleball now stands as the fastest growing sports activity in the nation, according the U.S.A. Pickleball Association. There are over 100,00 players registered in the United States and roughly 10,000 players in Canada. Now granted you won’t see this sport featured on ESPN, and there’s probably no chance of a super pickleball player gracing a Wheaties box, but with the recent explosion of popularity who knows what the future holds? Pickleball can be played with two to four people (singles or doubles) using wood or composite paddle rackets and a plastic ball with holes in it, similar to a wiffle ball. The game of pickleball is played only to 11 points making it quick game, which gets more people playing. The court is the size of a doubles badminton court, 20 feet by 44 feet, and the net hangs at 36 inches on each side of the court and 34 inches in the middle.
For the newly formed Tacoma pickleball club the membership has slowly been growing steadily, but as the leaves fall and the weather changes, Grasley is already getting ready to take his club indoors to keep things going. “We meet every other Saturday morning around 10 at Sprinker, but as the weather changes we will be looking at other indoor venues,” said Grasley. Players meet for friendly competition from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every other Saturday. The club currently is meeting at Sprinker Recreation Park. To sign up for the Pickleball Club go to http://www.meetup.com/Tacoma-Pickleball-Club. “Our overall goal is to foster a great environment for people to come and enjoy themselves and learn this exciting sport,” said Grasley. (See a video report on this story in David Hardt’s new episode of “Eye on Tacoma” at http://www.TacomaWeekly.com.)