Pickleball Pilgrims

Here we are pickleballers, back to a regular edition of your favourite blog. I apologize to Deep Dinker. His picture was missing from last week’s title page. Sorry old pal.

Speaking of DD, he gave me some insight into why he doesn’t like his former sculptor friend. Deep told me that his name is really McDeep! Yes, Deep is Scottish, and he hasn’t been able to do a proper ‘Highland Pondering’ without wearing his departed fathers’ Black Watch Kilt. He blames Rodin for sending it out to the laundry.

The story is all very sad and convoluted. I didn’t want to get into it all with DD, so to distract him I talked philosophy. I reminded him about the big picture, and how possessions can possess us.

”It’s no gued Dewgie”, he said mournfully, “I canna be wise when I’m pining for me tartan”.

He looked at me, at first sadly,….then his face brightened.

“I have a wee idea”, he said.

DD has revenge in mind. Specifically, he’s considering an unauthorized bio of a certain French sculptor.

The tentative title:  “RODIN SUCKS LA LEMONS”, an insider’s view by D.D. McDeep

I’m hoping that after he finishes his book, that Deep can get back to having a healthy obsession…..playing pickleball!

For your pleasure we are about to embark on a journey to another dimension. It’s a dimension of sight and sound……uh no, not something by Rod Serling. We are going to a different place. It’s somewhere in the nether reaches of the PB zone.

I will leave it to the reader to decide if the next offering is fictional speculation, a late night hallucination, or……premonition.

Glenda and Henry were on a drive, on a road leading to Bainbridge Island. Their drive was going well until the traffic began to slow. They soon found out the reason. People were walking on the narrow shoulder of the road. Not just a few. Lots, in a line as far ahead as Glenda could see.

“Oh my gosh”, she thought. “Henry”, she exclaimed, “look,.. look at them all”!

Henry, who had been concentrating on his driving, glanced over.

“Uh huh”, he said in a dis-interested voice, “pilgrims”. He slowed somewhat to avoid running anyone down. Glenda glanced his way.

“What do you mean”, she asked her husband, “what are they pilgrim-ing about”?

Henry, who had seen the lines of people on this road before, just snorted at his wife’s’ awkward choice of words.

“Well”, he said in a know-it-all tone of voice, “that’s a good size ‘pickle line’. On their way to Bainbridge I expect”.

Glenda looked back and studied the pilgrims while Henry drove on. She noticed that there was different aged people. She also noticed that there were lots of people about her age. Middle-aged pilgrims.

“Middle-aged”, she thought with a frown.”How she hated that term,…. it sounded antique”!

“Henry”, she said, “is there a church on the Island that they’re going to”?

Her husband puzzled over how to explain. Keep it simple he decided.

“No church”, he stated, “just pickilly people going back to where their sport started. They’re all pickilly ball people”.

Henry smiled to himself. He had done a good job of explaining things. Glenda frowned at him. Then she looked backed at the pickilly ball people. Something was wrong, then in a flash it came to her! The correct word was pickleball. She remembered an acquaintance of hers had mentioned playing some game where you hit a plastic ball around with a paddle. At the time Glenda hadn’t really been paying attention. Now she was!

She studied the pickleball pilgrims. They looked like they had been walking for a long time.

“Maybe”, she thought, “they have been walking for hundreds of miles”.

She became fascinated by the pilgrims walking along holding their paddles.

“I wonder what it would feel like”, she thought, “to have something important in my life? Something that you love so much that…..”

“Pickle-nuts, that’s what I call them, heh, heh”.

Henry’s snicker brought Glenda out of her daydream. She looked at her husband with a frown.

“Pickle-nuts”, he repeated, “heh, heh”.

She didn’t say anything to him. She just looked back at the people. She went back to her daydream.

“Something that you love to do”, she thought,….. “I wonder what it would feel like”

He’s a great player. He’s given a lot of his time volunteering to the Victoria pickleball community. He is also someone I like teaming up with during drop-in sessions. The reason is his calm demeanor and gentle sense of humour.


  1. Your age?
    • I am 62 and am a proud member of the ‘class of 52’…..those born in 1952 of which there are a slew of us at Pearkes Pickleball.
  2. What was your former profession? Do you work now?
    • After growing up in Victoria I attended UVIC and obtained a degree in history and psychology in 1975 (that’s 40 years ago). Part way through my university time I took a year and a half and traveled around North America and Europe as well worked as a timber cruiser in remote areas of BC. After university I completed business courses for my years in appraisal, accounting, and finance. I worked 13 years for Canada Mortgage and Housing as a real estate appraiser on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. I then moved on and worked at the head office of BC Building Corporation doing financial work for about 17 years and managed a great group of people. I resigned in July, 2007 and worked part time doing appraisals and contract work as well as some occasional landscape work (I only do this because it feels good when I stop!).
  3. I enjoyed participating with you in the pickleball demonstration at the Oak Bay Tennis Club. I am wondering how long you’ve played there?
    • I’ve been a member of the OBTC for about 30 years. Doug, we had a lot of fun demonstrating pickleball to members of the tennis club – you repeatedly dazzled them with your footwork!
  4. How did you get interested in pickleball?
    • My dear wife, Lauralea, dragged me to an introductory pickleball session in the winter of 2010. I play lots of tennis and I wasn’t too sure at the time what I would think about the pickleball experience. This was one of Andy and Cynthia’s Saturday sessions at the Commonwealth Place. They were so enthusiastic about pickleball and really gracious in helping us along. After this positive introduction we played a few more times that winter while visiting family in Arizona and I started to get really interested in the game.
  5. Lauralea plays as well. What other activities, or sports, do you two enjoy together?
    • In addition to pickleball we enjoy doing walks together, playing co-ed slo-pitch as well as golf (which the old saying goes is ‘a good walk spoiled’). We also enjoy cycling and travelling. We are active members of Friendship Community Church in Saanichton. I’m hoping that we can take contract bridge lessons together after Laurslea retires.
  6. These next questions are for Lauralea: You and Dave mentioned going on a river cruise last year. Did you enjoy it? Was it a special occasion?
    • Lauralea answers: “I thoroughly enjoyed the river cruise. My favourite part was spending lots of time with Dave. It was our 30th wedding anniversary gift to ourselves. We also had some great times exploring other parts of Europe before and after the river cruise.”
  7. Has Dave given you any useful tips for your game?
    • “Yes,…. but I wish I could implement them completely.”
  8. Dave tells me you golf. How do you like that Highland Pacific course? Personally, I tend to end up in the rough there.
    • “I enjoy the Highland Pacific course and the ladies nine and dine events.”
  9. Back to you Dave: You and your tournament partner, Dave Kalyn, play with the Tolmie Guys. Is that pretty competitive. or do you get time to joke around?
    • A point of clarification on this one, Doug. I play at McMinn Park early Friday mornings with a regular group of five guys who are good players. We’ve been playing year round (since two summers ago) and only go indoors if the weather is truly awful. The ‘Tolmie Guys’ are also a regular group of five or so good players who play at Tolmie Park. We have a good natured rivalry between the two groups we each will utilize the other group to provide subs when needed. I will say that when a few of the Tolmie lads come over on a road trip to play pickleball with us at McMinn that they usually get tested pretty well. It is competitive but we always have lots of laughs when we play.
  10. Your lady tournament partner, Elizabeth Peckham, has an awesome volley shot. Has she asked you for any tips on the finesse game?
    • I’ve only played one tournament with Elizabeth (recently in Nanaimo) and it was a lot of fun preparing for and playing in the tournament. When practising we encouraged each other to be patient with the short game and to wait for the opportunity to put the ball away. It’s all about minimizing mistakes. By the way, Elizabeth is the only player I know that can leap up for an overhead, momentarily hold a yoga pose and then put the shot away. Perhaps I exaggerate, but she can sure hit those shots!
  11. How would you describe your experience at this year’s Nanaimo tournament versus last year’s tournament?
    • It was a different experience playing in the Nanaimo Tournament this year compared to last year as they were utilizing a different format. Both years I played doubles with Dave Kalyn. Last year we had a full round robin of about seven games and then we had playoffs. This year we had only four games and the standings were determined by the total points earned by each team. There was a requirement of the winning team to referee the following match. It was good experience refereeing but I much preferred having more games as was provided last year. Dave and I won the bronze medal in the men’s 4.0 division. This year I played in the mixed doubles for the first time in Nanaimo (with Elizabeth Peckham) at the 4.0 level and for this event we had four preliminary games followed by a three game playoff. We managed to win the gold in this event. I enjoyed playing with Elizabeth as we share the same attitude. We want to compete at a high level but it is more important to us that we treat our opponents well and that we have fun while playing. It was much better having more games in the mixed event than what I experienced the day before in the men’s doubles event.
  12. I’m curious, you’re an advanced player with a great all round game. Do you work on specific things during your player prep sessions, or do you just go out and play?
    • Well, Doug, it is generous of you to say this but I think that I have work to do to have a “great all round game”. Suffice it to say that I have a lot to learn about the finer points of pickleball but it has been fun to lay lots and improve along the way. Regarding “partner prep” sessions typically we work at understanding who will be taking the shots in the middle zone as well as overall communication.
  13. Last question Dave, you’ve been to Europe. What’s better European suds, or a good Canadian lager?
    • Lauralea and I enjoyed spending some time in Iceland. So if you are there I recommend that you enjoy a “Gull” lager.

Finally, Doug, I’d like to leave you with a comment:

It has been a real pleasure playing pickleball at the various indoor and outdoor venues in Greater Victoria the last five years. We have an awesome local pickleball community and it has been great to get to know so many of the local players.

Pickleball incorporates “swings” used in other racquet sports. There is the overhead smash much like badminton. It is the only swing that incorporates the use of your wrist which snaps at the moment of impact. There is a swing similar to the tennis swing. This is mainly used for ground strokes. The subtle difference is the tennis stroke originates much of its power from the shoulder and the pickleball ground stroke is a bit shorter and generates most of its power from the elbow. In both the wrist is quite rigid.

But let’s get to the most important stroke of all. The volley… king of pickleball strokes. A volley is a shot taken in the air. A good Pickler can volley from any spot on the court. Starting from the ‘set position’ as you await your opponent’s return. You quickly determine if you can volley or not. Often you will have a choice….step back a bit and let it bounce and return a ground stroke or step ahead and return a volley. Always choose the volley if you have a choice. It allows you to advance forward in a more offensive position and allows your opponent less time to get set and get better court position for themselves. Think attack when you can. The volley swing gets ‘shorter’ as you approach the kitchen line. When you arrive at the kitchen line your is just a short ‘punch’ starting near your head for the backhand volley and ending just in front of your face. Your racquet is then ready for any return from an opponent…and you will protect your beautiful smile. The forehand volley is similar..a short punch, stiff wrist with the racquet finishing in front of your right shoulder.

These ‘punch’ volleys allow you to face your opponents and thus see where they are on the court and place your shot accordingly.

Next up, how to practise the volley… Pickleballs’ most important shot. Till then enjoy Pickleing…

Occasion – Eddie Zabiela’s 65th birthday
Date        – Monday, May 25
Time       –  pickleball starts around 10am, lunch at noon
Place       – McMinn Park
Bring        – finger food, camping chair (if you have one)

This is a repeat of the announcement in the outdoor play email sent out on Saturday.

I had some very warm responses to the Mother’s Day Special Edition. Many of them were from guys. Thanks so much to everyone who let their hearts show!

More stuff that interests me. Please give me your ‘best shot’ if you read something that you liked.

Also, if you have any questions for the Rite Way Coach, send them in to me and I’ll make sure he gives you help with your game.

‘Pickle well’,


Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pickleball Pilgrims

  1. Pingback: The Puckering Pickler - Challenge Court

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *