Although the name may sound a little funny, both those who play and enjoy watching pickleball take it seriously.
The sport has grown drastically across Canada over the past decade, prompting the creation of Saskatoon Pickleball Inc. (SPI), which started in 2017 to help promote the growth of the sport in Saskatoon.
Read more: Pickleball is a sport on the rise
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve grown from a handful of snowbirds coming from Arizona and Florida to play here in Saskatoon,” SPI acting president Marilyn Barrington said. “From there, word spread to their families and friends, and it’s grown exponentially.”
There were dozens of pickleball players on hand to celebrate Canada’s National Pickleball Day at the two-month-old outdoor courts at Father Basil Markle Park in Sutherland.
The addition of these nine courts has been huge for the local game.
A study from the sports and fitness industry association suggests that the game has roughly 75,000 players across Canada, and the hope is that this new facility will only help to raise those numbers.
“We are so appreciative of it, and appreciate everybody that’s been involved with fundraising and everybody’s just kind of gotten together. That’s what Saskatchewan is all about,” pickleball player Colleen Moniuk said. “People volunteering, people raising money and having a good time doing it.”
“People are coming out, staying fit, staying healthy, and it’s a social environment as well, and then we have the competitive aspect,” Barrington added.
“Oh, it’s fantastic,” SPI board member Glenn Stumborg said. “I mean, with all of the time we have to play. The sun is shining, and even with the wind, we love it.”
Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused drastic changes in most people’s lives, these pickleball enthusiasts are grateful to have the opportunity to continue to play the sport they love.
“If I look at March, April and May, the word depression almost comes into mind,” Stumborg said. “As compared to getting out here, seeing friends, and just playing a good sport.”
“Mentally, it’s been very, very rewarding,” Moniuk added. “Of course, everybody has different levels of stress during the pandemic, and I think that any time you can get out and you can be physically active, you can be social, yet still being very aware of the social distancing and everything else. It’s just a win-win for everybody.”