Pickleball growing in popularity

Pickleball growing in popularity

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Pickleball is a fast growing sport, with a funny sounding name.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, players fill the courts at Donal Snyder Community Center in Biloxi. Among them is 86-year-old George Hults.

"I gave up volleyball to do this and it's the best move I ever made. I love this game. It's incredible," said Hults. "And these little whipper snappers? I just knock 'em apart."

Rhett Mitchell discovered the sport during his recovery from a heart attack. Walking, he says, was way too boring.

"It's great exercise. It calls for a lot of stretching and bending and movement, and everything us old folks need," Mitchell explained.

And even though pickleball is primarily played by an older demographic, it's still plenty fast and highly competitive.

"It's just a wonderful sport. I was never involved in any athletics. But I do love pickleball. It's just a fun game. And very social," said Joni Maloy of Pass Christian.

A trio of visiting snowbirds from Michigan recently joined the fun with the Biloxi bunch.

"I've only been playing six weeks and I love it. Just absolutely love it," said Bob McParlan.

Additionally, it seems the sport is highly habit forming.

"I'm already addicted and it's my first day. It's real quick and good hand-eye coordination, and great exercise," said first timer Brent Pickering.

Ron Kappel is happy with the health benefits that go along with the fast moving game. The resident of the Armed Forces Retirement Home has become a regular.

"I'm 78 years old, and like these other folks probably told you, this beats walking," Kappel said.

With minor modifications, pickleball can also be played on outdoor tennis courts. The City of Biloxi will include boundary line markings for the sport on four new tennis courts at Hiller Park.

"It's a great social outlet. We love being together and playing and getting the exercise and enjoying it all at the same time," said Mitchell.

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