UNITY — The rising popularity of pickleball is evident in the number of organized groups in the Press-Herald communities. Heck, TSN even shows pickleball competitions now on their channel. People are relishing pickleball.
Four people were instrumental in bringing pickleball to Unity in 2019. Richard and Karen Briggs along with Harvey and Kathy Johnson say they had been introduced to the sport while vacationing and quickly recognized this was a social sport that provided both physical and mental exercise to participants. They wanted to bring this to Unity.
Pickleball is a paddle sport that is comparable to table tennis but played on a larger, badminton-sized court.
“Usually the game involves two teams of two but can also be played as single-player teams,” Johnson says.
“There are only a handful of rules so the game is easily learned and any age can play, from children to seniors.”
Unity Pickleball Club presently has 25 to 30 participants and Johnson said they all started as newbies. The game is quickly learned and skills are acquired the more you play, so as a result, the Unity club has varied levels of skills.
“We have been playing pickleball in Wilkie for five years,” says Patti Jaindl, who organizes Wilkie’s Pickleball Program.
“We only play from fall to late spring as our numbers start to decline due to outdoor activities.”
Jaindl says the Town of Wilkie received a grant in 2018 for their program to start up with some equipment provided and a clinic was held to learn the basics of the game for interested people in their community.
Unity uses one of the school gyms throughout fall and winter. The group meets Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons for anywhere from one-hour to 90-minute sessions. Johnson noted most members play at least once a week. Jaindl says the Wilkie group, since last year, has been able to use McLurg gym.
“Last fall, the Unity club had skills trainers join us from Regina to improve our court performance. This fall, we are offering Learn to Play, at no cost, throughout October, to provide anyone interested in learning the sport and checking to see if it is a good fit for them. These introductory sessions will be led by local mentors,” says Johnson
From Oct. 1 to May 31, membership for an adult is $40. Unity club organizers say that when the weather allows, they have the opportunity to play on an outdoor court, located next to KC Rescue in the Richardson Outdoor Recreation Park, on a first-come first-serve basis.
“Unity’s pickleball court is in action every day when the weather is nice,” says Recreation Director Lisa Feser.
“It has been booked/used by avid pickeballers, those learning the game, family events or group activities.”
Jaindl adds, “I organized another clinic that was more in-depth in 2019. We had several new people interested and we all wanted to learn more skills. We typically have around 12 devoted players, but numbers have been over 20 at times. We have a lot of fun playing, lots of laughs and it is such great exercise. A great way to get out with other people as well. “
Johnson affirms that some of the Unity club members have even tested their skills in other pickleball club tournaments.
“Well over a million Canadians have now taken up the sport, making pickleball the fastest-growing sport,” Johnson adds. “Professional sports teams play pickleball for warm-up, tension release and camaraderie.”
Pickleball can become part of a healthy lifestyle with low-impact exercise, improvement of eye/hand coordination, balance, flexibility and overall physical and mental well-being.
“Pickleball people are happy people,” exclaims Johnson.
Unity Pickleball Club will be at Unity’s trade show this fall and encourages people to stop by and see what they are all about. Jaindl says they continue to encourage and welcome new players of any age, as this sport is not just for seniors, with interested people contacting her at 306-843-7450.
Macklin Curling Club posted on their social media that pickleball is open again. It will be running until the end of November. There are two courts now and players can drop in for $25 a month. Interested players can contact Don to book times at 306-753-7031.
Kerrobert Recreation Director, Marli Shepherd, new to the position, says while their community does not yet have this program up and running in town, she is looking into some resources to help initiate this recreation option down the road.