A couple years ago, April Rastoskey was introduced to the sport of pickleball by her late father. Now it seems Rastoskey and her family are among the growing number of people to get bit by the pickleball bug, so much that they built a court at their house.
Nick Buckley, Battle Creek Enquirer Published 3:47 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2017 | Updated 6:33 p.m. ET Aug. 2, 2017
The Battle Creek Pickleball Club plays five days a week at Kellogg Community College. Nick Buckley/The Enquirer
A couple years ago, April Rastoskey was introduced to the sport of pickleball by her late father.
Now it seems Rastoskey and her family are among the growing number of people to get bit by the pickleball bug, so much that they built a court at their house.
"Our whole family has loved it," Rastoskey said after teaming up with her son, Nick. "It's a great, great way for us to stay connected through generations really. Grandpa playing with grandkids — it's awesome."
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. There are 228 registered pickleball courts in Michigan alone, with more than an estimated 8,000 players in the state according to the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA).
The root of the sport is in Bainbridge Island, Wash., where in 1965 three dads were setting up to play badminton but couldn't find a shuttlecock. So they improvised with a Wiffle ball, lowered the badminton net and manufactured paddles out of plywood. Some sources claim the name pickleball derived from the family dog, "Pickles," who would chase after the ball, but in fact it came from "pickle boat," a term referring to the last boat to return with its catch.
Cheryl Mackinder, president and ambassador for the Battle Creek Pickleball Club, said the group features more than 100 members. They play five days a week, and during the summer games are played at Kellogg Community College. The school now has four regulation pickleball courts as well as two additional courts where lines are tapped over a tennis court. The club also meets for indoor play at Battle Creek Christian Early Learning Center and Full Blast.
One evening session in late July saw 43 players take the pickleball courts at KCC.
"We just keep growing," Mackinder said. "It can be competitive. It is fun. It's a game of finesse — it's not supposed to be a game of power... I love the socialization. I love the athleticism of it, because I was never an athlete at all growing up. This is fun for me and something my husband and I can do."
Many members of the Battle Creek Pickleball Club are self-described "snowbirds" who split their time between Florida or Arizona. That includes Peggy Fettes, who along with her husband Mark, plays the sport four-to-five times a week.
"We go out to Arizona now and through somebody here, we play pickleball out there for four months of the year," Fettes said. "We have a lot of younger people that are joining through corporations and other things — so we're getting some young legs out there."
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Kalamazoo recently hosted the USAPA Great Lakes Regional, where David Harris of the Battle Creek Pickleball Club took home a bronze in the men's singles 60-plus division. Three members of the club are competing at the 2017 State Games of America in Grand Rapids, Aug. 3-6. The four-day Olympic-style event is expected to attract more than 12,000 competitors, with more than 600 registered for pickleball alone.
Tuesday night pickleball at KCC is scheduled for advanced players, but Brian Gifford says the group welcomes players of all ages and abilities.
"Just a great group of people," Gifford said. "We let beginners come in and try it — mix in with them and make them feel at home."
Nick Buckley can be reached at email@example.com or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley
BATTLE CREEK PICKLEBALL CLUB
At Kellogg Community College
MONDAY: 6-8:30 p.m.
TUESDAY: 5-8:30 p.m. (advanced play)
WEDNESDAY: 9-11 a.m.
THURSDAY: 6-8:30 p.m. (ladder play 6-7 p.m. - open play 7-8:30 p.m.
SATURDAY: 9-11 a.m.
*Rain location: Battle Creek Christian Early Learning Center
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