The PA PIcklers play pickleball on courts inside the Alberni Athletic Hall. The sport has attracted players of all ages and is played in several locations around the Alberni Valley. ORLANDO DELANO/Alberni Valley News

VALLEY SENIORS: Pickleball is a sport for all ages

Albenri Valley seniors helped increase interest in sport, facilities


Special to the News

Until recently the word pickleball was not known in the sports lexicon, and for that matter, not mentioned in dictionaries or encyclopedias. Well, things are rapidly changing in the world of sports. “What a fun sport this is,” says Edilia, an enthusiastic player. “My husband and I recently went on a cruise trip overseas and one of the first sport activities they offered us was to play pickleball. It was fun,” she adds.

Today thousands of people of all ages are enjoying the practice of this game which is steadily growing internationally. Here in Port Alberni dozens of practitioners enjoy this trendy sport, as people of various ages, especially seniors, take part in the game which is played as doubles or singles.

Pickleball is a fun indoor or outdoor sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, using a wooden or hard plastic paddle and a plastic ball with holes.

“The goal of our club is to keep seniors active physically, mentally and socially and pickleball is one of the activities that provides all of these things,” says Larry Brechin, from the Echo Sunshine Club Pickleball Group. Back in 2015, the Sunshine Club, in conjunction with Port Alberni’s Parks and Recreation and Heritage Department, received a New Horizons’ grant to build a free standing pickleball court at Gyro Recreation Park. It was great news for the pickleball players. Soon after, Glenwood Centre became the site for the indoor practice of the sport during the winter months.

“Currently, there are 44 regular pickleball players enjoying the sport Monday evenings from 7-9 p.m. and Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9–11 a.m. at Glenwood, and new members welcomed,” adds Brechin.

“In April of 2013 a number of us returning from Arizona and California with our new pickleball paddles and our newfound love of this unique sport starting looking around for places to play.”, says Ron Crema, from the PA Picklers. The enthusiastic group started playing at Cougar Smith Park on two courts on Faber Road.

In 2014, after an increasing number of players interested in the new sport joined in, more sites were explored, including abandoned school and halls tennis courts. The interest was growing not only locally but all over the Island.

Crema recalls that around 2015 presentations were made to several community groups including the City (Parks and Rec) and the ACRD with hopes of educating those unfamiliar with the sport and perhaps planting the seed for some support. He adds that by that time, the Sunshine Club were successful in a grant to build a dedicated court at the Gyro complex but those involved in the explosive growth of the sport knew that one court would not make it in the long run. With a growing number of pickleball enthusiasts returning from their southern winter getaways came a growing demand for facilities.

Those remaining in Port for the winter months rented a school gym. Those at Sproat Lake made a concerted effort to revive the old Sproat Lake Community Hall and outdoor tennis courts and the Sunshine Club rented the Glenwood Centre. The outside dimensions for doubles badminton pretty much lined up with the lines for pickleball with one small adjustment. It appeared as if all groups in town and the rural areas were finding ways to the facilities required to keep this healthy life sport alive in the north.

Slammers Gym on Sixth Avenue in Port Alberni had invested time and money exploring the idea of a multi-use facility and eventually built a large outdoor court. Unfortunately this area could not gain the necessary traction needed to build a club around and alternatives were explored. Archie Cardinal was a huge supporter of the concept and quite excited about the potential. Appreciation was expressed to him for his generosity and support.

In the meantime, the City of Port Alberni agreed to paint pickleball lines on a tennis court accommodating four pickleball courts in the same general facility as the dedicated court. This move by the city was very positively received by all those involved. In 2017 Parks and Rec, with the help of several community sports groups, applied for and received a substantial grant for the Gyro Rec Centre with a commitment to resurface the lacrosse courts and paint pickleball lines for use by the Sunshine Club and the PA Picklers with coordination through Parks and Rec. Members of both groups (both registered with the Societies Act) were instrumental in their support for the grant that was subsequently received giving both groups an opportunity to play on refurbished courts with dedicated pickleball lines.

The PA Picklers membership, from teenagers to seniors, reach dozens. In the winter months they play at the Athletic Hall four mornings a week and at Alberni Elementary School on Monday and Thursday evenings.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Port Alberni RCMP searching for missing man

Jeff Buck was last seen June 25, 2020

QUINN’S QUIPS: Ramsay family of Port Alberni takes a grad trip of a lifetime

Family got caught in Europe as countries were closing their borders due to COVID-19

ARTS AROUND: Creative carvings on display at Rollin Art Centre

July’s exhibit will feature artists Cecil Dawson, Allen Halverson, Nigel Atkin and others

WATCH: Vintage trucks parade through Port Alberni

Industrial Heritage Society volunteers celebrate Canada Day with a quiet cruise through town

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Most Read