From just a handful of people batting a ball around to what’s now a small army, the Williams Lake Pickleball Club has become a popular way for some lakecity residents to stay in shape, and have fun doing it.
For those unfamiliar, pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, ping pong, badminton, and other racket games, and is considered one of the fastest-growing sports currently in North America.
You’ll catch Williams Lake Pickleball Club (WLPC) members enjoying the sport five times a week on the Kiwanis Tennis Courts if you happen to pass by in the mornings on Sundays or, after work, during the week.
Lakecity resident Frank Kika heads up the local club, and started playing six years ago during a trip to Arizona in the winter.
“One of the first RV sites we stopped at had a single court,” Kika said of his first introduction to the game. “There were 12 players all standing around, and only four paddles, so to be fair we had to play condensed games to six points. I was just hooked right away.”
In Williams Lake, he points to Bernie Pinette and Gord Mierau as the club’s initial founders.
“They started it six years ago,” Kika said. “The initial court was made at the golf course. We refinished one of their old courts and made it into a pickleball court and then last year we moved down here to Kiwanis.
“We probably had an initial group of about six or seven players and I think we’ve easily grown three times that. We’re up in the mid 20s now for players.”
Not only that, but the game is also being implemented into School District 27’s athletic curriculum and, Kika and his wife, Barb, offer two, four-week clinics each spring through the city’s Recreation Services Department. One clinic is for seniors, the other is for community members.
“Lake City [secondary] is extremely fortunate because they’re so close to the courts here they can just come down and do tennis or pickleball,” Kika said.
Asked what the appeal of the game is, Kika said it’s just a tremendous amount of fun, and can be enjoyed at any level of competence in the game.
“I think the biggest appeal is a player can become proficient enough to play a fun game in a very short amount of time,” Kika said. “In pickleball, although you’re not going to perfect all your shots right away you’ll get enough to be proficient in a short time.”
The WLPC plays Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m. Anyone interested in trying out the sport is more than welcome to stop by the Kiwanis Courts for some instruction and a chance to give the sport a shot.
“It’s a great sport,” he said.
“Just come on out during any of our times. There’s always extra paddles around, and that’s another nice thing about the sport. All you need are some running shoes and a paddle.”