“The game is growing by the day in our neighbourhood, and it’s great to see. We could see close to 500 participants by the summer,” says Kim Porter of the Barrie Pickleball Club.
Pickleball? What is that?
Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton played on a badminton-sized court with a net roughly two inches shorter than a tennis net. It’s a great workout, fun for all ages while being far less strenuous on the body than other racket sports. Despite its fast-paced nature, pickleball is easy to learn and a great social activity.
Here’s a fun fact for our history buffs. Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington. Additionally, three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum – banded together to create the game. Ultimately, the goal remained to provide an experience that the whole family could enjoy together.
Uniquely, age is irrelevant in pickleball. Players of all age groups can compete against one another and enjoy the experience.
“A game can last anywhere from 10-15 minutes, becoming more of a chess match at the higher levels of competition,” Porter explained.
The Barrie Pickleball Club
The Barrie Pickleball Club is a not-for-profit organization, of which Porter is an ambassador. Porter, specifically, is a long-time advocate for pickleball’s growth within the community. Furthermore, Porter and her mixed doubles partner Gil Metcalfe first found pickleball through the local rec centres in Barrie back in 2016.
“Back then, there were no outdoor courts. We had to use the tennis courts, which were already run down,” Porter shared.
Porter approached City Council to propose bringing pickleball courts to Barrie, ultimately getting approval. Sandringham Park established the first pickleball court, primarily used for practice and drilling. Over time, interest in the sport grew. Further, Porter and Metcalfe recruited players while engaging in discussions to bring more locally accessible courts to the city.
“Pickleball, in its nature, is an inclusive sport,” Porter stated.
In addition, the Barrie Pickleball Club desires a facility of its own to offer more programs to an increasing number of pickleball enthusiasts. The club seeks grant opportunities for further funding coupled with a partnership with the City of Barrie.
Looking to the future
The Canadian Nationals tournament returns to Kingston this June. Moreover, construction continues this summer on the Eastview courts. Contributions to elevate the game locally remain a constant.
What’s more, pickleball is unique in that it’s a transitional sport. Players crossing over from tennis or badminton can ease into action, free of the physical exertion of pickleball’s counterparts. And with the city recently approving eight more courts in the Painswick area, expect pickleball to sweep the region all summer long!
Check out the Barrie Pickleball Club’s page here.