A game with a name: pickleball launches in Digby
Game a low-impact, accessible sport for seniors, all ages, says active living manager
You won’t find yourself in a pickle if you try out the latest sport to arrive in Digby. And no, its name doesn’t come from a crunchy, preserved cucumber.
The sport involves a tennis-like net, two sets of individual players or teams, one round, plastic ball and rackets for all playing. Using a badminton-sized court and a ball with the bounce of its ping-pong relative, players volley back and forth.
Cara Sunderland, active living manager with the Digby Area Recreation Commission, describes the game as a “crazy combination of ping-pong and tennis” and says she was inspired to bring the uniquely-named sport to town after seeing videos of it online and hearing it had taken off in the Annapolis Valley.
“I figured we could use some of our open-gym time on Saturdays to encourage people to come out for free and try it – we’ve got the equipment for people to use, and really hope people come try this,” she says.
The sport originated in the United States, where its founders named it for their dog, Pickles, who loved chasing balls. It has grown to appeal to young and old players across the U.S. and Canada because it’s considered low-impact and joint-friendly, as the whistle ball move s slower than its tennis counterpart.
Sunderland currently plays with her 10-year-old sons, Connor and Ben, who love the game but can’t seem to pinpoint exactly why.
“I just think it’s really, really fun,” says Connor Sunderland.
If the game piques local interest, Cara Sunderland says DARC would partner with pickleball players across the province to “help start something a little more official with rules.”
She also says a tournament happening Dec. 15 in Canning presents the perfect opportunity for anyone feeling curious to watch and learn about the game, and get excited to play.
“It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to bring community members together, and for older adults to be active,” she says.
Sunderland also says this game is a barrier-free, cost-friendly game that people of all financial means can join.
Recreation initiatives offered by DARC are funded through the province’s Communities, Culture and Heritage department’s Facility Access Program, which provides funding for an attendant to monitor, open and close the schools
where these sports take place on weekends.
Sunderland says these financially-accessible initiatives “could not happen” without that help.
“We’re really focused on being able to provide accessible programming, and really limit the barriers to be able to participate,” she says.
Connor Sunderland, 10, plays pickleball with Digby Area Recreation Commission director Bob Powell and active living manager Cara Sunderland.