Pickleball picking up in Stratford

·2 min read

Pickleball has become so popular in Stratford, P.E.I., a wait-list had to be created at the town's recreation centre, says Coun. Steve Gallant.

"It started a couple years ago. We started with 30 people participating in pickleball. Now we are up around 130-135," said Gallant, who also chairs the town's recreation committee.

"It's a great workout. It gets your heart rate up," he said. "If you can stand, you can play it. Anybody of all ages can play it."

During the summer there are eight outdoor courts, but games move inside during winter, he said.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

The game is a mix of tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton, played on a regulation size badminton court. The low-impact sport is also popular with seniors.

"What I tell them is ... you take a Ping-Pong table, smash it onto the floor and that's how you start playing," said Bruce Fitchett, who has been playing the sport for eight years.

"It's just a big giant game of Ping-Pong. That's what I like to describe it as,"

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Fitchett has watched the sport grow —- especially during the pandemic because it is a sport where distance is easily maintained, he said.

"With this pandemic we've got three groups of 32 playing pickleball here in Stratford," Fitchett said.

While pickleball is busy in Stratford, Fitchett said several communities have courts and those interested in playing should call their local recreation centre.

The best part of pickleball is the "camaraderie and friends" you can make while playing, said Fitchett.

Rosemary Matthews was introduced to the sport while visiting Florida. She said she and her husband were snowbirds and started playing on P.E.I. around 2014 when they stopped traveling to the U.S.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

That is a situation other pickleball players find themselves in — people who would typically be playing the sport in Florida are playing it on P.E.I. because of pandemic travel restrictions.

"We're even seeing an increase this year," she said. "I don't know if there are too many people who are snowbirds who haven't been coming here, but certainly we are seeing an increase," Matthews said.

While the Stratford location is all booked up for pickleball, Matthews said she is hoping to soon start sessions teaching people how to play.

Pandemic protocols are also in place, such as wiping down all equipment between games, Gallant said.

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