PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)– The sport of pickleball has been growing across the panhandle over the last few years.

The sport was invented by a former Washington State Representative, Joel Pritchard, and his friends in 1972.

“The story goes that it was named after their dog but the dog was named after the game and then the name really came from boat races,” pickleball player Bill Caravello said.

Panhandle Pickleball has worked closely with Bay County officials to expand the sport.

“We want to include all of the community in here and you know make it a local sport where any citizen here can come and play,” said Panama City Beach City Councilman Phil Chester.

USA Pickleball Ambassador, Carl Gendece, retired to Bay County and said the sport gave him a community in his new hometown.

“We just do a lot of things together other than pickleball I mean it just develops an avenue,” Gendece said.

Carl and his wife Deb Gendece give pickleball lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Frank Brown Park.

“When I look out there on the courts so many that are former students and it’s neat to see how they are progressing along and improving,” Deb Gendece said.

Anyone that wants to joint to group can go to for more information.