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Pickleball is rapidly growing, and Fairbanks is no exception

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 8:07 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Pickleball - which combines the elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong - is one of the fastest growing sports in America, and Fairbanks is also picking up the paddles.

The Farthest North Pickleball Club is leading the charge in the Golden Heart City, offering tournaments, free clinics and regularly scheduled leisure play at the Big Dipper Outdoor Rink during the summers.

“Here in Fairbanks, we have more than 100 players,” said Pickleball coach Brian Smith. “It is just a lot of fun, entertaining, good exercise and you get to meet some really nice people.”

The dimensions are condensed, one-quarter the size of a tennis court, creating fast paced, back-and-forth action that can be enjoyed by all.

While often thought of as an activity for those older, as it a prominent sport in the upcoming Alaska Senior Games and within the community, high school and youth athletes are beginning to pick up the perforated plastic ball and racket to join in on the fun.

“I’ve played with someone who was 84 years old, and he was pretty good, but we do get younger people [starting to play]. Someday we hope to get it into the Olympics.” added Smith.

Maurice Hackshaw, who is currently serves in the U.S. Army and has a background in football, uses the sport to maintain an active lifestyle, without beating up his body too badly.

“I always say, you’re never old until you feel old,” said Hackshaw. “As long as you keep moving, you will never start hurting yourself or getting atrophy. I want to play sports and I want to it to be easy on my body, but still really intense and high paced.”

Hackshaw first discovered Pickleball in Colorado in 2019, and has carried his love of the sport to the Last Frontier.

“As soon as I held the paddle and connected the ball, it felt good. Since then, I was hooked ever since.”

Hackshaw is offering a free Pickleball Clinic on Thursday July 29 at 6 p.m. at the Big Dipper Courts. More information on the Farthest North Pickleball Club can be found on their Facebook Page.

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