Jerry and Terri Draude from Penticton compete at the 55+ BC Games Pickleball competition at Parkinson Recreation Centre in Kelowna. The games brought over 4200 athletes to the Okanagan and concluded last week. (Photo: Mackenzie Britton - Capital News)

Okanagan pickleballers happy to play at 1st ever 55+ BC Games

Jerry and Terri Draude from Penticton put their skills to the test

Pickleball has been a massively growing sport in the Okanagan over the past 10 years.

The same is true for the sport in the 55+ BC Games, which concluded this past weekend in Kelowna.

At nearly 500 athletes, pickleball had one of the highest turnouts for the games, and the biggest in the history of the 55+ BC Games.

Two Okanagan pickleballers celebrated their first-ever games this year.

Jerry and Terri Draude, from Penticton, were happy to play close to home and weren’t surprised by the big turnout.

“Pickleball has been growing by leaps and bounds, this turnout does not surprise me,” said Terri, who entered in the pickleball doubles competition at Parkinson Recreation Centre.

“The games are a great opportunity to meet other players and to see what the sport means in other communities across B.C.,”

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David Graham, the 55+ BC Games president, said Kelowna was well-suited to host the large amount of pickleballers due to the surplus of outdoor courts, something not all communities have.

“The sports been growing and has been hugely popular in Kelowna,” said Graham.

“It reminds me of racketball in the ’80s; it grows and next thing you know, it’s everywhere.

“It can be indoor, outdoor and modified from tennis courts. That’s the beauty of pickleball.”

There were great turnouts in hockey, track and field and dragon boating throughout the games, but the pickleball crowd brought out plenty of avid fans to watch the spectacle and cheer during the championships.

With the success of Kelowna’s first hosting of the 55+ BC Games and the large pickleball turnout, the sport’s popularity shows no signs yet of slowing down.

“The games bring more exposure, it brings more encouragement and motivation and trying to excel at the sport,” said Draude.

“It’s also a lot of fun.”

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