The Sport of Pickleball is Growing Quickly in Central Nebraska, NEB — Over the past couple of years many Hastings residents are finding that pickleball is a great way to get some exercise and have fun.

Leagues and drop in games seem to keep getting busier all the time there. The sport is played in multiple places around town but for this story we headed to the Peace Center next to First Presbyterian Church in Hastings.

Pickleball, explaining the sport can be done in a number of different ways.

“It is a small version of tennis because you are on a court, badminton because you can hit it on the fly, and there is some ping pong strategy to it,” said player Bobbi Burke.

“The unusual part of it is the ball is a whiffle ball so it slows it down when it is coming at you and it also doesn’t bounce as high as a tennis ball,” said player Kent Holsten.

I guess I would describe the sport as playing tennis on a smaller court but with a big ping–pong paddle.

However you describe it, for most like Bobbi Burke, they are new to the sport but became hooked to the game very quickly.

“When my one ping–pong buddy didn’t show up one day they were playing pickleball so I played pickleball and the rest is history. I play four to six days a week,” said Burke.

“I used to play racquetball all the time and then I shattered by knee and was out for like eight years and one of the guys here said why don’t you try pickleball and I played once and said oh baby this is way too much fun,” said location organizer and player Diane Mullen.

Kent Holsten says he has played a lot of tennis and ping pong but this was his first time playing pickleball.

“Well it is a sport you can do indoors regardless of the weather. You can see you can get multiple players involved. The games are short, only to 11 points,” said Holsten.

It is easy to see why the game is growing.

“We have three portable nets here and they come down and fit into a little duffle bag. Most of the nets are like $150 and you can tear it down and carry it away. A box of balls is just $8,” said Mullen.

“It is for all ages. Some people truly think it is an old person’s game but it’s not. I am out here and I get smoked by these people. It is every age. It is awesome,” said Landon Arnold the Recreation Coordinator for the City of Hastings.

“We have appreciated some of the younger people in their mid to late 20’s or early 30’s that are playing and they keep coming back for more and don’t seem to mind playing with us old folks,” said Burke.

“So I am really encouraged when these young kids come and play because they step up the game,” said Mullen.

Damen Heitmann is the associate pastor here and says this is a great activity for the church.

“One of the core tenants of the faith is supporting community and how do we foster connections between people. The more connected that we feel with one another the more willing we are to help each other and support each other,” said Pastor Dame Heitmann the Associate Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Hastings.

“We were pleased to be invited. It is a very fun activity,” said Holsten.

“Just on a crappy Thursday Night with the weather we had more than enough players and I hate to sit out so yes we are going to need more courts,” said Mullen.

If you are from the Hastings area and are interested in playing then you are invited to join the games at the Peace Center at 7th and Lincoln Avenue next to First Presbyterian Church.

You can also contact the Hastings YMCA or the City of Hastings that has indoor and outdoor courts available for play.

There are also leagues, drop-in games and tournaments in Kearney and Grand Island. Both those cities are working on adding additional outdoor courts.

Contact the city park and recreation department where you are to see if there are players in your area.


Interested in starting pickleball or just want to learn more about it:

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