Calgarians from three years old all the way up to 87 picked up a racket Saturday in honour of World Pickleball Day.
The free event at North Glenmore Park and Brentwood pickleball courts saw more than 200 players alongside 40 volunteers in what’s considered to be the fastest growing sport in North America.
Nita Nestman was among several people who had never tried the game before, but after playing just 15 minutes, she says she’s hooked.
“It’s World Pickleball Day so I thought I’m gonna give it a try, I wanted to get some exercise, it’s beautiful with the sunshine, and it’s quite a bit of fun,” she said.
“You have to have some physical fitness., but it’s a good group and you can enjoy yourself as well as being fit.”
This year’s theme for World Pickleball Day is ‘Family Play,’ which encourages families to learn the sport and introduce the rules to new players.
Membership at the Calgary Pickleball Club has grown over 100 per cent in the past year from 800 members in May 2021 to 1,800 members last month.
“It’s so exciting to see new players especially at the beginning of the summer,” said Helen Puls, the lead coordinator for the Calgary Pickleball Club at North Glenmore Park.
“Some of these players don’t have a lot of confidence in playing the game at first, but they learn from experienced players. And then by the fall, they’re very good at playing and they get really comfortable.”
In Canada, a 2021 survey estimates nearly a million households now play pickleball, which is a 60 per cent increase in just two years.
Don Upton is 87 years old, but as one of the most experienced players, he says he loves playing the game with his wife Jane and meeting new friends.
“It’s just nice with all the laughing and giggling going on out here,” he said.
“But it’s the activity too, it keeps me doing things.”
Others like Jodie Wade have also been playing for a few years, but now she’s introducing the game to her three-year-old boys Patrick and Callum.
“Pickleball has a reputation as being a little bit of an older person sport, but I love it and had lots of fun playing so I definitely want to bring my boys up with rackets and this is a great place to start.”
The Calgary Pickleball Club is accepting new members and has developmental clinics taking place later in June.
For more information, Calgarians can go to the Calgary Pickleball Club website.