Volunteerism Spurs Continued Growth
October 29, 2020
Even though pickleball has been around since 1965, the sport is still establishing its presence in Canada and in Ontario, in particular.
In the beginning, pickleball in Canada grew from the desire of a handful of determined pickleball enthusiasts who played in the US but came home and found it difficult to find other pickleball players and courts to play on. These early ambassadors of the sport are responsible for creating many of the active hubs of pickleball that have been sprouting all across Canada such as Waterloo (ON), Red Deer (AB), Kelowna (BC) and Montreal (QC).
Hamilton (ON) is another active pickleball hub where Pickleball Hamilton actively promotes inclusiveness, accessibility and raising the level of pickleball in the City and surrounding areas. Without similar opportunities, many Pickleball Hamilton members continue to travel long distances to Hamilton due to the lack of facilities and organized play in their own neighbourhoods.
Laying early foundations over seven years ago, Pickleball Hamilton is still one of the few organizations in Southern Ontario to successfully lobby for and build, in partnership with the City of Hamilton, 6 (soon to be 12) dedicated pickleball courts at Hill Park and, most recently, 12 dedicated courts at Confederation Park.
These successes are largely fueled by the dedication and effort of Pickleball Hamilton’s founders Rick Stevens, Jeff Morgan and Gary Russell. Over the years and behind the scenes, these early ambassadors put in hundreds of hours developing business plans and lobbying City of Hamilton officials to put a spotlight on the fastest growing sport in North America and the need for accessible, affordable indoor and outdoor facilities. It is inconceivable that any of these Hamilton pickleball facilities would exist without the countless volunteer hours put in by Pickleball Hamilton.
This is in stark contrast to the surrounding areas of Brantford and Burlington where there are little or no dedicated pickleball facilities. At community centres, where most indoor pickleball is played in Canada, wait times for play are often long and pickleball sessions must often compete with more “established” sports such as volleyball, basketball, badminton etc. for play time.
In the early stages of pickleball development in Hamilton, the founders and past board members of Pickleball Hamilton successfully lobbied on behalf of all the pickleball players in the City to have more recreation centres providing pickleball and more pickleball time slots provided at the recreation centres.
It is no surprise then that in 2019 (pre COVID-19), the sport has grown to include over 15K registered visits by pickleball players at City of Hamilton recreation centres.
As one of our volunteers observed recently:
“It takes ‘a village to raise a child’ and the same is true for Pickleball Hamilton. The seed planted so many years ago by Rick, Jeff and Gary continues to thrive and grow in the hands of dedicated volunteers who work behind the scenes to find many ways to contribute to the club and spur Pickleball Hamilton’s support of its membership and overall growth of the sport in the region.”
Pickleball Hamilton; we are stronger together through volunteerism.