Pickleball pioneer Carol Haworth won gold and silver medals at the first ever Pickleball Canada National Open Championship

Great game with strange name gains momentum

Chilliwack has become a major hub for the growing game of Pickleball, a favourite with the senior set.

If you’d told Carol Haworth  at 50 years old that she would be winning national titles at 71, she would have given you a real funny look and called you daft.

If you’d told her that she would spend her golden years passionately advocating for a sport named after a preserving process, she’d have slowly backed away and looked for help.

If you’d told her that Chilliwack would be a hotbed of activity for one of North America’s fastest growing sports — well, at least that one might have seemed feasible.

Yet here we are in 2012, and all these things have come to pass.

Haworth is a national champion.

Haworth is a passionate advocate for pickle-ball.

And Chilliwack has become the northern frontier for a game that was born in the Seattle area and found its legs in the southern United States.

Haworth’s title  came two weeks ago at Pickleball Canada’s first ever National Open Championship, held at the Abbotsford Rec. Centre and Yale secondary school.

The tournament was national in name but international in scope, with several Americans making the trip to the Fraser Valley.

“I think we had 160-plus people who entered the competition, and we had 14 courts,” Haworth said. “For a first-time event, it was hectic but it was really well run. The level of play was just superb.”

Haworth took top spot in the 70-plus women’s doubles competition, and teamed with Earl Hill to finish second in the 70-plus mixed-doubles division.

Several other Chilliwackians won hardware at the tournament.

Elaine Griffiths won silver in 70-plus women’s doubles and again in 65-plus mixed doubles.

Kathy Parkes was a gold medalist in the 60-plus women’s doubles division.

Henry Meerkirk, Brian Parkes and Mandy Witt claimed bronze medals.

Haworth, who has competed and won at the World Senior Games level, was delighted to face some of the best of the best — players who can match her in technical and strategic expertise.

“When you first start the game, it’s all about standing at the back line and banging the ball as hard as you can,” Haworth explained. “But close to 80 per cent of pickleball now is what we call the ‘soft’ or ‘dinking’ game. It’s a cat and mouse style, and it’s interesting playing, and watching, games against people who know how to play that sort of game.”

The formation of a national governing body (Pickleball Canada) two years ago has been another significant step forward for what Haworth calls the “great game with the strange name.”

Search Google.ca and you’ll find pickleball associations springing up everywhere. You’ll find online merchants selling pickleball paddles.

Here in Chilliwack, Dave Snyder in the Parks and Recreation Department has helped Pickleball Chilliwack get outdoor courts at GW Graham.

No longer are they confined to the dark gymnasium at Evergreen Hall. Five years ago, Pickleball Chilliwack had 20 regulars. They have more than 30 now, with a whole bunch more coming and going at various points in the year.

With the first national tournament out of the way, Haworth thinks it likely Pickleball Chilliwack will host one of its own in 2013. With nine new courts staked out at GWG, she thinks they have the venue they need.

“It’s exciting that we’ve grown so much and every time I open my mouth I’m talking pickleball,” Haworth laughed.

Get more info on Pickleball Chilliwack from Haworth at 604-792-5885, Ken Witt (604-769-2717) or the Chilliwack Seniors Society (604-793-9979).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Sto:lo protest in support of Wet’suwet’en shuts down busiest intersection in Chilliwack

Protesters escorted by RCMP in organized event that included speeches and songs at Luckakuck/Vedder

Vocal groups come together for intimate concert in Chilliwack

Belle Voci and the Chilliwack Children’s and Youth Choir will be performing at St John’s Anglican

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Feb. 17 to 23

PHOTOS: Looking back at 2010 Olympics with top 10 images captured by Chilliwack photojournalist

Progress photographer, Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

PHOTOS: Spirit of the People Powwow underway now in Chilliwack

Thousands of people have gathered this weekend to take part in the powwow open to the public

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Most Read