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Marilyn Hagerty: Players have passion for pickleball

Some people spend winters in Florida or Arizona. Others choose Mexico. Then there are the rest of us. Here at home. A couple dozen of us get out and play pickleball Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

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Some people spend winters in Florida or Arizona. Others choose Mexico. Then there are the rest of us. Here at home. A couple dozen of us get out and play pickleball Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Inside the Hyslop multi-purpose gymnasium at UND, you hear the gentle plop-plop-plop of hollow orange pickleballs. You hear good-natured commentary of players from opposite sides of the courts. It's sort of like tennis.

Stacey Wright is secretary and Troy Boman is president of the Grand Cities Pickleball. In the summer they play games outdoors in East Grand Forks O'Leary Park.

Ping. Pong. Ping. Plonk.

There are women and men of varying ages wearing comfortable clothes. They work up a sweat when it's 20 below outside. They laugh a lot.

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They say you play one game and you know the game. They pay $30 a month for their two hour sessions twice a week (6-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays).

"You meet the nicest group of people," Kathy Lieberg told me. "Everyone is willing to accept pointers."

The first team to 11 wins. You serve diagonally. You can't go beyond the line and get into the "kitchen." It's kind of a combination of volleyball and tennis.

Pickleball used to be played here in Grand Forks at the YMCA before it moved to its winter quarters at UND. In summer, it's been popular in East Grand Forks. There, the games go on from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. The game seems to be taking hold.

And during the winter, outdoor pickleball courts are very busy in vacation areas down south.

Of one thing the pickleball players are sure: Spring will come to the Red River Valley. It may take its time, but it will get here. On April 6, 7 and 8, there will be a pickleball tournament in the East Grand Forks Senior High School Gymnasium.

Winter on the run

While there is no spring break as such in the Grand Forks Public Schools, the students will have two days off this week. That's Friday and Saturday when the hockey pucks will be flying during the state tournament here.

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So it does seem we have winter on the run. Spring break is coming up March 10 to 17 at UND. Places like Cancun and Puerto Vallarto, Mexico, lay claims to being the number one destination.

In reality, the destination for many students often is a trip home.

Related Topics: MARILYN HAGERTY
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