No doubt that there’s a surge in interest around the world for the modest pickleball. The Kardashians were seen playing it, and celebrity host Ellen DeGeneres was obsessed with it.
It’s safe to say that the game has come a long way from being just a sport that three dads invented to keep their children from getting bored, back in 1965, in Washington state, (as per USA Pickleball) to one that’s competitively played around the world.
Here in New West, the sport has its loyal followers.
Head to Moody Park in the mornings between 9 a.m. and 11.30 a.m., and you are sure to find about 20-odd people who are ready to play the game with you. And that is the scene not just on the weekends, but six days a week, confirms Debby Morgan, an avid pickleball player.
Plans are made ad hoc among the roughly 280 members in the Pickleball New Westminster Facebook group; those who are interested to play on a particular day drop a message in the group, and based on the number of players, and the weather, they decide where to serve and smash.
The group plays at Moody Park, Queensborough Community Center's indoor court, besides other locations.
None of these courts, however, is a dedicated pickleball court.
The forming of a new pickleball club
In fact, said Morgan, “New West is the only municipality or city that does not have one place, either indoor or outdoor, where you can truly play pickleball at pickleball courts and with pickleball nets on a legitimate pickleball court size.”
Right now, they adjust by playing on tennis courts, though for pickleball, which is a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping pong, the net has to be lower, and the court size smaller.
“So we are really at a true disadvantage in New Westminster,” Morgan added. The lack of a dedicated court was one of the reasons that pushed Morgan and a group of core players from the Pickleball group to start an official club for the game four months ago.
Now, New Westminster Pickleball Club is part of Pickleball BC and Pickleball Canada.
The positives of having an official pickleball club in New West
Having the voice of more people reach the city’s Parks and Recreation department through a registered club would help matters better, they hope, “as opposed to individuals trying to fight for the same thing.”
Previously, members have tried to approach the department on their own to improve the facilities that allow people to enjoy the game, said Morgan. But, none was able to get anything accomplished.
Being an official club would also allow them to apply for grants and fundings, said Marion Bonner, a member of the club who started playing pickleball in 2016 after retirement. More importantly, people can now easily reach out to the club if they want to, given it's registered under Pickleball Canada.
“It’s a welcoming and fun group,” said Bonner. A majority in New Westminster play the sport for fun. "When you play pickleball, you're even cheering for your opponent. That's what's really unique about it."
What Bonner finds particularly striking about the game is that it allows people to look past the differences in language and culture — sometimes players who don’t speak the same language end up playing for hours together. Little else matters as long as they can keep the score, and know how to have a wonderful time.
A fundraiser pickleball tournament
Though a fledgling club, the New West Pickleball Club is organizing a tournament to raise money for Refood, a food rescue charity that focuses on the issues of food waste and food insecurity, on August 6, at Queensborough Community Center. The tournament will include 48 players, and will be split into two sessions between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration fee is $30 (lunch is included).