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A shared passion for pickleball brings community together

The town’s embracing of the sport has reached the point where it’s actually attracting new residents.
Cochranites took part in a free Pickleball clinic put on by Alberta 55+ at the SLS Centre Tuesday afternoon as part of Seniors Week.

The phenomenon that is pickleball has hit Cochrane hard, and it has become more than just a sport, particularly for local seniors.

In addition to the burgeoning growth of the local club, the successful push for a new facility adjacent to the SLS Centre will add 20 new courts, and it seems the town’s embracing of the sport has reached the point where it’s actually attracting new residents.

Cochrane Pickleball Club vice-president Joanne Ferster said the sport is so popular and important that a recent transplant cites the local club as the reason he chose to move here.

And it turns out to be a good place to partner up for more than just a game.

When Cochrane Pickleball Club president Greg Young was trying to decide where to live when he moved from BC a few years ago to be closer to the grandkids, he soon learned Calgary was too busy for him, so he started searching surrounding areas like Okotoks, High River and Cochrane.

Pickleball was number one on his list of ‘must have’ criteria, and the vibrant pickleball community in Cochrane impressed him so much that it tipped the scales in favour of the fast-growing town.

It was not just the game itself, but the whole social scene surrounding it that made him choose Cochrane.

He started playing regularly at the SLS Centre in 2018.

“I eventually met my life partner there,” the 69-year-old Young said. “She was a much better pickleball player than me, but she sort of brought me along. We started dating, and about two years later we moved in together; so it’s a happy story.”

He estimates he plays six days a week and his partner plays 10.

The local club has grown so fast they’ve had to put a cap on new memberships, as the infrastructure gets a chance to catch up.

“It’s kind of addictive,” Ferster said.

Ferster said another attraction is that pickleball can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities – it doesn’t demand an elite level of athleticism like squash or tennis.

There are four courts next to the Frank Wills Hall, and the SLS Centre has courts for winter play, but the main addition to available facilities will be the 20-court complex that was the site of a ribbon-cutting this week, in the Greystone area next to the rec centre.

The new facility is expected to open for play next summer.

The project was made possible through a provincial Community Facilities Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant, with matching funds coming from Entity One Inc. – the backers of the Greystone development.


Howard May

About the Author: Howard May

Howard was a journalist with the Calgary Herald and with the Abbotsford Times in BC, where he won a BC/Yukon Community Newspaper Association award for best outdoor writing.
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