Homer residents bring home gold for Pickleball skills

Homer residents Kathy Hill and Doug Dodd scored a gold medal in the mixed double Pickleball competition during the 11th annual Alaska International Senior Games Aug. 14 held in Fairbanks. 

They stirred up quite a scene with their advanced skills in the fast-paced and oddly named game that was not only a new sport to the Senior Games but also to a few of the duo’s competitors.

“The bar wasn’t set very high,” said Dodd. “A lot of people haven’t played much.”

The killer pair lost one game out of six matches. Dodd was familiar with the game, first playing in 1988 in Portland and starting again in Homer in November of last year. 

“We had a great time and played well together,” said Hill. “We practiced beforehand in Homer against other pair doubles. We felt good about our game.”

Longtime Homer resident Hill took home a second gold medal from the women’s double competition with partner Donna Holleman from Fairbanks. A competitive tennis player in her younger years, Hill fell in love with Pickleball when she first played last March.

“I heard it was going on in Homer so I showed up one time,” she said. “They taught me what to do and I took to it. It’s an addictive game, I can tell you that.”

Pickleball, a sport combining tennis, badminton and ping-pong is played on a court a third the size of a tennis court. The unique name came from a cocker spaniel named “Pickle” that would run after the balls hit by the game’s inventor. 

Enthusiasts say Pickleball is the fastest growing game in America, certainly catching the attention of both young and older athletes since it started in Homer last year.

“Just in its short time in existence over 70 people have come out to play or come on a regular basis,” said Hill. “As winter comes on we predict more people will continue to show up.” 

Pickleball is played every Wednesday and Friday from 6:30-8:30 at the Boys and Girls club gymnasium. Players ages 14 and up are invited and it costs $2 per person. Beginners are welcome.

“We really encourage new people to come out and join us.” said Hill. 

According to Dodd, it’s an easy game to get hooked on.

“People can pick it up quickly, learn rapidly and progress quickly yet still have the game be challenging.”

The sport suits a variety of ages and both youth and elderly are encouraged to join in the fun.

“I like it because older people can play it with younger people because it’s not totally dependent on strength and speed.” said Dodd. “The point being is that you can continue playing as you age. One of the better players in Homer is a guy in his 70’s.” 

More information on the sport of Pickleball can be found at the USA Pickleball Association Web site: http://usapa.org