During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have found new outdoor hobbies to keep busy during isolated times. One activity that has been enjoyed by many Orillia residents during the pandemic has been pickleball.
On Thursday night, local business owners Rick Sinotte of Sinergy Clothing, and Sharon and Rob Street of Street’s Flower Shop, were buzzing around the pickleball court at Homewood Park.
“It’s a great game, and it’s not just for old people, even though we are old,” Sinotte chuckled.
“I’ve seen groups of kids out playing who are all under ten years old who live in the neighbourhood.”
Sinotte says pickleball is one of the more inclusive sports on the planet. People of any age and skill level can take part in the game.
“I like it because I can play with my family, I can play with my wife, my son, my friends, you can play in groups of four, and the team aspect to it is really great. Any age can play this game and it’s getting really popular,” he said.
“There is a group of 15 of us who meet up and play together every week. This is our second year now playing. We like the idea of comraderie and friendship, so we’ve been keeping our social bubble and we rotate each game.”
Sinotte says pickleball allows for his family and friends to enjoy a night out during a time where some usual spring and summer activities such as dining, playing in a sports league, or going to large community events are put on hold.
“We make it a social thing. If we have eight or 10 people come out and we are allowed to do so with the restrictions, maybe we go back to the Streets' house and go in the pool, or maybe we go back to my place and have some drinks and play horseshoes, we make it like a friendship and family night out,” he said.
Life without activities like pickleball during the pandemic can put a strain on mental and physical health. During the recent stay-at-home order, pickleball courts were off-limits.
“We couldn’t play pickleball, we couldn’t play tennis, we couldn’t ski, it was awful,” said Rob Street.
“We need the game for the exercise, it provides us with a stress release,” Sharon Street added.
Rob says the province's decision to ease restrictions on outdoor activities such as pickleball has been a glimmer of hope during the long and at times dark pandemic.
“It helps us get back in shape after a long winter, and it’s just good to get out and do something during this pandemic,” he said.