(UPDATE, 9:45 p.m. MDT: HRDC's pickleball fundraiser scheduled for Oct. 1 has been canceled due to impending rainy weather and will be rescheduled for next spring.)
BOZEMAN — HDRC is hosting its first annual pickleball tournament on Sunday, Oct. 1, and it's no surprise they chose this sport due to its growing popularity, not only in Bozeman, but nationwide.
Shelley Lehrkind says she started playing pickleball 12 years ago in Arizona. She loved it so much, she brought the sport home.
"About COVID time, my husband and I built a pickleball court at our house, so it was perfect. We had our little pod and played and had a lot of fun," says Lehrkind. "Funny things happen. We laugh a lot. It's social, but also competitive. So you get a little bit of both."
The sport started in the 1960's but really started to pick up in 2005. Bozeman Parks and Rec Recreation Manager Jamie Saitta says it's the fastest-growing sport in the United States, with 8.9 million people playing it nationwide.
"Pickleball is a paddle sport, a combination between ping pong, badminton, and tennis," says Saitta. "One of the things that's awesome about pickleball is it's really easy to learn how to play."
Saitta says there are several places to play in Bozeman.
"The publicly owned courts, the dedicated pickleball courts for Bozeman are in Bogert Park. We have three tennis courts at South Side Park and they have lines for pickleball," Saitta says.
There are also plans in the works for more courts.
"In the Bozeman Community Center master plan, we have pickleball courts identified and we also are planning on putting pickleball courts in some of our neighborhood parks as they are developed," says Saitta.
For Lehrkind, she encourages people to get out and play.
"You'll have a ball and you'll love it," says Lehrkind, "so go pickleball!"