Val and John Christians of Red Deer

Red Deer picks up pickleball

Racquets up! There’s a new sport in Red Deer — one hailed as North America’s fastest growing competitive pastime. And no, despite it’s name, pickleball is not about hurling fermented cucumbers across the playing field or dressing up in gherkin-inspired uniforms.

Racquets up! There’s a new sport in Red Deer — one hailed as North America’s fastest growing competitive pastime.

And no, despite it’s name, pickleball is not about hurling fermented cucumbers across the playing field or dressing up in gherkin-inspired uniforms.

It’s a blend of ping-pong, badminton and tennis, played in doubles or singles with a wooden paddle and a wiffle-like ball.

“It’s addicting actually,” said Val Vollmin, president of the Red Deer Pickleball Club, which was established last fall. “It’s something that just about anyone can play. A lot of our members are seniors and whereas tennis is tougher to play, this is a smaller court and you don’t have to be as mobile. It’s easier and you can be as competitive as you want.”

It is played on a badminton court but with a lowered net and while the court is divided up like in tennis, there are non-volley zones (also called the “kitchen” area) in the inner courts.

The first side scoring 11 points and leading by at least two points wins.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Wash., when a group of men, including one congressman, set out to create something different and fun for their children.

Not much is known about where the name of the game came from. Vollmin said there is speculation it’s derived from one of the sport inventor’s dogs, Pickles.

The sport was officially incorporated in 1972 in the United States and Pickleball Canada became an official national association in 2009. It now has over 1,000 members.

According to the association, the sport is sweeping the nation with new clubs popping up every month.

Tournaments are also now a part of the pickleball trend. Vollmin, 59, and a few other local members will be participating in the Alberta Open Pickleball Championships in Calgary in July and Vollmin, who participated in eight tournaments in the United States last winter, is also signed up for a championship in Utah later this year.

She first tried a swat at pickleball years ago while wintering in Arizona and is still a member of the Pickleball Club at Sun City Merrill Ranch in Florence, Ariz., where she plays every winter.

“It’s huge down there. That’s what we do,” she said. “We tried to get it going in Red Deer about four years ago because we enjoy it so much.”

While it’s been tough trying to flesh out the club roster, Vollmin said they now have 55 members in Red Deer, an increase from the 25 that signed up last fall.

Last week the club hosted its first open house and demonstration at the West Park Community Centre. There was also free introductory lessons. Vollmin said she was pleased with the turnout of 65 and hopes to have the club’s membership climb to 100 before September.

Membership is $20 per year and members must be at least 14 years old. Anyone younger interested in playing must be accompanied by an adult.

The club currently practices at the West Park community courts but is looking for a full-time home with courts with a finished surface.

For more information, email

Just Posted

WATCH: Rappelling down Red Deer’s Stantec Building a thrilling, scary experience

Advocate reporter chronicles his trip down the 13-storey buildling

Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

27 brave residents rappell down Stantec Building

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

HMCS St. John’s to return to Halifax after six-month deployment overseas

HALIFAX — The countdown is on for the homecoming of a Halifax-class… Continue reading

Trump says lawyer taping him may be ‘illegal’

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — The Latest on President Donald Trump and his onetime… Continue reading

Spieth part of 3-way tie for British lead as Woods lurks

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Jordan Spieth has a share of the lead in… Continue reading

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month