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by Isabel Mosseler
November 11, 2020
There are 50 Pickleball players in West Nipissing who are looking for a place to play indoors over the winter. These are local people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and at least one 80-year-old, who are doing their best to remain active and social, all while maintaining physical distancing. Many of them normally go south for the winter, but that isn’t happening this year, so they are hoping to prolong their playing season. However, this is proving to be a challenge as venues are being shut down due to Covid-19, and the club has yet to find a place to play indoors.
Marsha O’Connor, president of the local Pickleball club, was playing on the tennis courts at the Sturgeon Falls beach along with 7 others on November 4, squeezing in as much play time as they could. The recent spate of good weather allowed them to play outside, but these intrepid souls have also been playing in the recent cold weather – anything to stay active. O’Connor, a retired teacher from Canadore who lives in West Nipissing, said, “We don’t have the [tennis] nets because the town took them down [for the winter]. We’re using badminton nets.” They brought their own. “Last week we played when it was cold outside and we were all bundled up and we still played. As long as there is no snow and nothing that precludes us from slipping, we play.”
What is Pickleball? It’s one of the fastest growing sporting activities in North America, a cross between court tennis, table tennis and a badminton court, using a paddle and a wiffle ball. There are now 4000 locations in the US where people can play pickleball. It’s affordable, easy to pick up, and the gear is very basic. As well, it’s not hard on the body. The court is a lot smaller than tennis, you don’t need to follow a dress code and, as you watch people play, it’s easy to see that the competitive spirit does not overwhelm the basic fun. In fact, the more practiced players are delighted to help newbies grasp the rules.