WINDSOR, N.S. — A sport that largely appeals to Baby Boomers is steadily growing in popularity in Hants County.
Pickleball is played on Mondays and Wednesdays in Windsor and offers seniors a gentle, yet competitive, sport to get involved with.
Rae Winkelaar, Windsor's pickleball co-ordinator, said they started playing the sport in 2013. In the warm months, they played outside at the Windsor Curling Club; during the wintertime, they played at the Falmouth Elementary School. In 2015, they found a home in the gymnasium of the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre.
“The numbers have gradually grown,” said Winkelaar.
“It's open to anyone that is interested. Somebody defined pickleball as being tennis for seniors but we do have some young people playing too.”
Winkelaar says the gym is used from 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, and there's another league that plays in the gymnasium at Avon View High School on Mondays from 8-10 p.m.
The afternoon sessions cost $2.
“I know a lot of people who go south for the winter, or part of the winter, and they play it down in places like Florida and they enjoy coming back and playing it here in the summer,” said Winkelaar.
Equipment is provided, free of charge, for those trying it out or who aren't regulars. Winkelaar said many people who attend frequently wind up purchasing their own gear.
“Nowadays, because people are playing more, they do end up buying their own paddles but we do have paddles and balls there if people want to use it and just try the game out,” he said.
“I think it's good fun if people are interested in that and want a bit of exercise and playing a game that isn't too demanding,” he added.
Dianne Levy, the manager of recreation and program operations for the Town of Windsor, said most larger community centres now offer pickleball.
“It's the fastest growing sport of older adults in North America. In the last five years, it's really taken off,” said Levy.
“It combines three activities that maybe older adults have been familiar with growing up. It combines badminton, table tennis and tennis.”
The paddles are smaller in size than tennis rackets, and the balls used are similar to wiffle balls.
Levy said part of the appeal is that pickleball can be considered a relaxing, “gentle” activity, or, it can be quite a competitive sport — it all depends on how the person feels like playing.
Levy, whose office is based out of the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre, said one of her goals is to keep people active at all ages.
“I think it's important to keep active as you age to just maintain a quality of life. We find also that it promotes mental health and it can address issues such as social isolation,” said Levy.
“I would say, from a recreation perspective, probably the older adults are the most physically engaged in our community more so than the youth, shockingly,” she added.
Aside from pickleball, Levy said Windsor Recreation offers a plethora of options to engage both body and mind. There are self-directed and group activities — everything from indoor walking and badminton to aquafit and card games. Many are free, some require a nominal fee.
“There's something for everyone,” she said.
For more information about the programs and activities available, visit Levy at 78 Gerrish St. in Windsor, call 902-798-1162, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found on the Town of Windsor's website or Windsor Recreation's Facebook page.