A message from Canada’s top male pickleball player confirmed the first of three contest wins for Powell River residents connected to a local pickleball program for seniors, whose members refer to themselves as Gherkins.
Lina Vallée, a non-playing supporter of the Gherkins, came across a contest held by Steve Deakin after entering a separate Pickleball BC video contest with local pickleball program creator Barb Struch.
For the contest criteria, Deakin asked entrants what they are doing while pickleball play is limited and/or on hold altogether, and what other hobbies or obsessions they have to take their minds off of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the pickleball world, Steve Deakin is Canada’s best,” said Struch.
Vallée created a crocheted pickleball paddle keychain pattern and entered Deakin’s contest. After making 28 of the keychains, she received a message from Deakin, informing her that she had won the competition, which welcomed entries from around the world. Her prize was a $200 Selkirk Invicta pickleball paddle signed by Deakin.
Vallée said she made the keychains as a surprise for the Gherkins for finishing the program. Members received the gifts in late June.
Although Vallée is not a player, other than hitting the ball around once for fun, she is connected to the program as a supporter of the group.
“I have helped the Gherkins in the background since Barb started the course,” said Vallée, adding that she might try playing pickleball in the near future, with her new prize in hand.
“My mobility isn’t all that great and I’m just working up to get it better so I can actually play,” she added. “Hopefully I’ll be able to play a little bit soon.”
The day the autographed paddle arrived, Struch was informed she and Vallée also won the Pickleball BC video contest. The prizes were a generous supply of Wysi Wipes (cleaning cloths) for all of the Gherkin participants and four Norwex cleaning cloths.
“Pickleball BC/Canada have very strict rules for playing pickleball right now,” said Struch. “The prizes were highly appropriate and very useful, considering it was a quarantine pickleball video contest.”
To see the winning video, go to youtu.be/PvyOHC-yEEk.
Two weeks later, Struch received notice of the third win, completing the trifecta of contest triumphs.
“I found out that I won the ONIX Pickleball Paddle Design Contest with my ‘Breakthrough’ design,” said Struch. “The ‘Volcano,’ a design Lina and I made, also placed in the top five.”
Struch’s prize pack, valued between $250 and $300, included a pickleball paddle, balls, water bottle, towel and backpack.
Gherkin Pickleball is for seniors who have never played pickleball before, according to Struch. This keeps everything on a level learning and playing field, she said.
“We are planning to offer a course in the fall but due to the COVID-19 situation, things may change,” added Struch.
Struch said the first course was very successful and the second session is already filling up.
“It’s the first program of its kind in Powell River,” she added. “I wanted to help seniors meet new friends and get some exercise in an affordable and safe and friendly environment.”
Struch said seniors who are interested in Gherkin Pickleball should contact the Vancouver Island University ElderCollege coordinator in order to have their names added to the waitlist.
For more information, call 604.485.2878.