“It’s probably because 60 is the new 40,” laughs Pickleball Alberta zone 7 ambassador Rob Barrett when asked why the sport is so popular. On any given weekday morning you’ll spot 20-30 pickleball fanatics playing the sport at the Bonnyville Centennial Centre. There’s a club just as big in both St. Paul and in Cold Lake; and there’s a new club starting out in Elk Point. “The thing about a pickleballer is they are always willing to teach the sport, talk about it and pass it on.”
Yesterday a pickleball clinic was held at the Centennial Centre with instructors Mike Cooper and Chris “Special” Kaye. The three hour clinic in the afternoon was attended by 22 players. Players were put through drills on the game aspects of the soft game called dinking, serving, return of serve, as well as backhand and forehand ground strokes. Throughout the instruction tips and strategy were given on all the game components and game play. Mike and Chris also held a clinic in St. Paul in the morning and again later in the evening.
The sport has not only become Canada’s fastest growing sport; it can safely be called the Lakeland’s fast growing sport! Similar to badminton and tennis the sport is played on a badminton sized court. Instead of wire or mesh rackets, it is played with a paddle-style racket. The balls are different as well, in that they are wiffle balls. The nets are shorter than tennis nets and with the smaller court it is not as physically intensive as tennis; making it perfect for middle-aged or older adults.
There are drop-in pickleball days and nights in Cold Lake, Bonnyville, St. Paul and Elk Point; which anyone can stop in and check out the sport. The newest club in Elk Point just formed their club and have already received grants from the Town of Elk Point and the Elk Point Lions Club to purchase their nets, balls, and rackets to ensure that anyone can come play.
Along with drop-in events, there are regular tournaments throughout the province and in communities across the border, in the snowbird states.
Recently, representatives from the Lakeland area went down to Westlock for a tournament. Westlock Fall Back Tournament held November 5. Norm Kowalchuck and Bill Yuill Bronze in mens doubles skill level 3.0. Darryl Kopela and Rob Barrett Gold in mens doubles skill level 3.5. Bea Yuill and Anita Germain Silver in womens doubles 3.0 skill level.
If you would like to learn more about Pickleball, contact Rob Barrett at [email protected]