Tia Wayling is the recreation services coordinator with the Regional District of Central Kootenay. File photo

Tia Wayling is the recreation services coordinator with the Regional District of Central Kootenay. File photo

Rec Perspectives: Winter Pickleball…It’s a Thing!

“We are seeing pickleballers braving the cold on dry days as well. Some of the local pickleball enthusiasts have even created a Facebook group and use it to message each other to let everyone know who’s up for a round of games.”

“Rec Perspectives” with Tia Wayling, the recreation services coordinator with the Regional District of Central Kootenay

It’s been almost a year since we softly opened the new Creston Community Park to the public. Actually, even before we were formally open, people were hopping fences and clearing debris to skate in the new park. This was not a smart or safe move, but it did show us how eager everyone was to use the new park, even in December. This year is no different.

In the park maintenance schedule, our plans include winterizing the park and shutting down some parts of the pathway and certain features to help prevent slips and falls, and save on some maintenance costs. No doubt, we will still see people on skateboards and scooters in the skatepark on dry days and kids playing on the playground.

But, guess what? We are also seeing pickleballers braving the cold on dry days as well. Some of the local pickleball enthusiasts have even created a Facebook group and use it to message each other to let everyone know who’s up for a round of games. Some may find it totally bizarre but I find this level of resiliency nothing short of admirable (see my previous article where I write about the power of resiliency).

READ MORE: Rec Perspectives: Ditch the Comfort Zone and Become More Resilient

On top of the outdoor players, we also have full, indoor pickleball programs running at the Creston Education Centre Gym. This sport has grown exponentially in this town since we started in 2011, offering it to only a few participants during the summer in the curling arena, with our overly-thick lines and makeshift protective mesh behind the courts to prevent the ball from rolling far across the floor.

But what is pickleball and why does it have such a weird name? Back in 1965, when the inventor, James Pritchard, wanted to play some badminton at his home in Washington, he improvised as he could only find ping pong paddles and a whiffle ball. Pritchard and his friends soon created rules combining sports like badminton, tennis, and ping pong.

Since 2010, the sport has exploded in growth, primarily in Canada, the USA, Spain and India. The origin of the name is still up for debate, whether it’s named after Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, or the similarity of combining multiple sports to leftover oarsmen in a crew to create pickle boats.

Either way, the odd name brings a somewhat, non-intimidating impression to the sport which is why some might be drawn to it initially. The sport is quite easy to learn and one can join in right away but, like any sport, has levels of mastery as seen in the competitive circuits, both nationally and internationally.

Even by the end of October, the courts at the Creston and District Community Complex (CDCC) were still seeing a few dozen players each day. Considering there’s only room for 16 at a time using all four courts, pickleball players are a very friendly and inclusive bunch that rotate players on a regular basis so that nobody has to stand around for too long waiting their turn.

We have no doubt that we’ll still see people playing in sub-zero temperatures, so the CDCC has decided to keep the nets up all winter. As long as the ball will bounce, we will see them playing. And to all the pickleballers out there, you’ve done a great job growing the sport here in Creston. Keep it up!

Keep an eye out in the spring for some potential clinics and tournaments. This is a fantastic sport for all ages that is worth giving a try, even in winter.

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