Emerado students enjoying pitball ring

City of Winkler Director of Community Services Jordan Driedger shows off the city's pitball ring. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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Winkler’s pitball ring is ready to be used and is already getting Emerado School students involved in the game.

The pitball ring went in near the end of last year, and this will be the first full summer that the community can make use of the ring.

Director of Community Services Jordan Driedger said a father and daughter approached the Recreation Department with the suggestion for the game.

The daughter had played the game at camp, and said it had been hugely popular among the kids there.

Driedger said the city had a grant available and used it to build the ring.

“Any activity is good,” Driedger said. “We like to try different ideas to see what works for our community. The more opportunities the better.”

The object of pitball (also known as Gaga Ball) is to smack the ball with an open hand and hit it into the other players (below the knee).

When a player is hit, they exit the ring.

“The ball is always supposed to stay low, no higher than wall height,” Driedger said. “If you hit the ball over the wall, that means you’re out.”

After being hit, the ball has to bounce off a wall or another person before it can be hit by that particular person again.

“It’s a fast moving game,” Driedger said. “It’s really active, kids love it. Even if you get out early, the game moves pretty quickly and then you get back in.”

The pitball ring is at Emerado Park, and Driedger said students from nearby Emerado School have been putting it to good use.

“They’ve contacted us numerous times saying how much the kids enjoy it,” he said. “They’re playing it all the time. If you drive by during recess, they’re out here.”

Driedger said the school is even considering putting in a second ring.

The city also recently started a ball hockey program for adults that runs Tuesday nights at Winkler Arena at 7:00 p.m.

Ball hockey is open to anyone over 18 years old. Drop-in is $5 or the program is $20 for the season. “We’ve had a decent crowd each time,” Driedger said. “It’s a newer program so we’re still building it up, but there’s room for more.”

“It’s not meant to be a competitive night,” he added. “It’s just recreational for those that want to try something different.”