Charlotte Maindelle of Harker Heights recently took third place playing pickleball during the Texas Senior Games in San Antonio last month. She said it’s been three years since she first started playing the game.

She is among the nearly 25 people in the Harker Heights Senior Recreation Program that plays the sport three times week. “I came here and saw others playing it and immediately was hooked,” she said. “I take away socialization as have become a group of friends who do a lot of exercise since we eat out a lot.”

Pickleball is an active game that was started in the 1960’s by Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and his family, said Joyce Mayer, director of the senior recreation program. “The name came from the family dog … when the ball went astray someone would say, ‘Pickles get the ball,’ and it evolved into the name of the game,” she said.

Mayer said the game was first introduced to Central Texans in the Heights Recreation center, and it has since caught on in recreation centers in surrounding areas.

“A lot of people in this part of the country have never heard of pickleball before,” she said. “It’s a paddle ball game that’s played over a tennis net. It’s a combination of Ping-Pong, volleyball and tennis, and the movements are the same.”

Other participants said they enjoy the active lifestyle as they play pickleball.

“If they play handball or racquetball then it can be a lot of fun,” said Diane Cline of Harker Heights, who has been playing pickleball for seven years. “Many of us go to senior tournaments and have won.”

Mayer said the recreation center hosts quarterly senior special events, and will celebrate this weekend with a pickleball play day.

The event is Sunday at the Heights recreation center from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Residents age 55 and older are encouraged to attend, as they are also celebrating Older Americans Month, Mayer said. “It’s a good mind game,” she said. “We would like to invite all sorts of people to come and play or watch so they can learn.”

Participants can sign up at the door.

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