Life in the Slow Lane: Pickleball?

Garnet Truscott met Rod Dand in an unconventional way.

While looking for a rental unit in Bucerias, the Dand’s knocked on the Truscott’s door to inquire.  Though they’d never met, Garnet and Muffy invited Rod and Carol in for a cold beverage.  (I like these people already!).  After some chatting, Rod asked if they’d ever played pickleball.  The response was, “What’s that?”.

Off they went to try this game with the funny name, and became instantly hooked…or should I say speared?  Initially, a group of six people played near La Cruz, but when interest bloomed, increasing the number closer to two dozen, the originating members knew they had to find a larger location.

While playing seniors mixed slow-pitch at the Bucerias field, Rod noticed the basketball courts and envisioned a new venue for the growing pickleball following.  Rod and Garnet approached the owners of the property, the Ejido Band, and asked permission to use the courts already in place.  The Band agreed, stating the group could play free of charge if they covered the cost of some improvements to the park, making it a more user-friendly place for local children and families.

The Bucerias Pickleball Group was established, and what an organization it has become.  “We started on one basketball court the first season with twenty members on three courts… the following year we added three more courts and added twenty more members.”

Now in their fourth year, there are ninety regular players and nearly forty drop-ins playing six days a week from 8:00am to 11:00am.  The cost per season is 1000 pesos, with every peso going back to the park; covering costs of repainting volleyball and basketball lines, adding a cement outline to the courts, and building benches with covered shade areas.

The park invites sports enthusiasts playing basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, and ball hockey, as well as pilates groups and those simply seeking exercise.  Garnet says they take pride in giving back to the local Ejido community, and, “We are very aware we are playing here at their pleasure”.

Garnet and Rod, along with Tim Schultz and Dennis Mazzei make up the executive.  “Our spouses are also involved in the meetings and planning and working.  Like any strong club we have great participation from our membership to maintain the courts and help with other activities.”

While observing the sport at the park one day, I sat beside an eighty-one year old who said the game is low-impact, “so it’s good for us old farts and geezers”.

I advised I would instead describe it as “a game for all ages”.  And, I learned some new phrases, like, “Don’t hit a dink, especially if standing in the kitchen”.  And, “Make sure you run into a punch shot.”  Sounds like I might prefer a good, brisk sit.

Pickleball combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton.  In June 2018, USA Today reported it is their country’s fastest growing sport, with more than 2.8 million players and a 12% increase in the last year.  Long time member, Gerry, says, “Everyone is here to have fun”.

I heard from a couple who live nearby the park.  “No, we don’t play pickleball, but we sure wish we did!  Every morning we hear people laughing and having fun”.  On that note, if you’re interested in joining the group or have questions, contact Dennis:  d.mazzei@live.ca.