Original Published on Jun 24, 2022 at 00:14

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Strathmore’s pickleball club has opened discussions with Town Council regarding the idea of permanent courts to be constructed within the community.

Sheila McLeod presented to Strathmore Town Council on June 15 on behalf of the Strathmore Pickleball Club, to talk about their ideas for permanent courts and what the project would need to look like.

McLeod had an additional goal while presenting to council: to raise awareness about the current state of the sport in Strathmore.

“We’re aware of the December 2019 Strathmore Recreation and Culture Master Plan where pickleball is indeed addressed, however, we would like to provide some useful input since we believe that numbers and interest in pickleball has changed significantly since the study was commissioned,” said McLeod, who during her presentation emphasized the inclusive nature of the sport, such that anyone of any age, skill level or physical conditioning can play.

“It gets people out into our community, and it doesn’t depend on needing much organization or equipment,” McLeod continued. “It’s inexpensive for both the Town and for the players. Once facilities are in place, there is very little cost. People bring their own equipment and maintenance is at the low end.”

McLeod suggested that particularly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to play and remain active in the sport was a contributing factor to club members’ physical and mental well being.

Strathmore’s pickleball club currently hosts 145 active members and McLeod expects that number to swell as awareness and popularity of the sport increases.

“We would like to express very strongly that Strathmore needs, in the future, a dedicated outdoor facility separate from tennis,” said McLeod. “We would like to build a junior program in partnership with the town. We know that developing a strong interest in our youth will be essential to the continued growth of the sport.”

McLeod added that the club is anxiously awaiting the tennis courts to be resurfaced, in hopes for permanent pickleball nets to be set in place so that both club members and the public can access courts freely.

Council expressed curiosity as to what the limitations currently are within the community regarding the number of potential courts that may be available and how current spaces are shared between sporting communities.

Currently, the pickleball club shares court space with local tennis players. Part of their intention in raising awareness of their perceived need for more courts is to ensure everyone can play, and that no one wants to be unable to do so due to space constraints.

If Strathmore were to have a dedicated facility with a minimum of 20 courts, McLeod explained there would even be potential to host provincial and national level competitions.

This item reprinted with permission from The Times, Strathmore, Alberta