It’s pretty common for people who have become captivated by pickleball to have the desire to become further involved with the sport off the court. In my “Welcome Readers” article I describe a bit of my own journey I’ve had with pickleball thus far, which I believe is similar to others who have discovered their love for the game. After gaining experience in recreation play and testing out my skills in tournaments, my horizons expanded even further to a wide variety of volunteer-based roles and responsibilities. Maybe you’ve yet to consider becoming involved in pickleball aside from playing and the best part about this is that it’s all up to you as to when and how far you’d like to become involved.
Being a volunteer on a local, provincial or national level can lead you down a path of many opportunities. Because pickleball is still in its early stages of development, there are many options for you to consider:
Become a referee through Pickleball Canada’s Officiating Program. Going through this free-of-charge process will allow you to referee matches at a tournament. Or you can consider USAPA’s Referee Certification Program. To start, USAPA has three online tests available for anyone to take, and one is a prerequisite for the Certification Program. After passing the prerequisite test you would have to participate in the Certification Program, which I believe the information has not been updated due to Coronavirus. Sanctioned tournaments require a certain amount of matches to be refereed, and in fact, some larger-scale tournaments even pay referees a small honorarium for their time and effort.
Tournament directors will always put out a call for volunteers prior to the event, so if refereeing is not of interest to you, you can always be a part of the tournament action as a general volunteer and help with routine logistics. This usually requires your time a few days before, during, and just after the tournament.
As of right now, there’s not one pickleball club in Ontario that operates out of a dedicated facility for the sport. Using shared, multi-sport space means sharing court time and some clubs even have to operate out of multiple locations (ie. schools). In general, the sport is growing in popularity faster than the infrastructure is being put into place, and this is no different from clubs, so undoubtedly they are always on the lookout for more volunteers either on the front line or board level. If you are unsure of how to find a pickleball club near you, the most composed list that I have come across is Pickleball Ontario’s “Places to Play”. Check the map for clubs closest to you.
Become engaged in online forums and blogs. This virtual option is particularly topical right now but the fact is that this form of engagement will be relevant after COVID-19 as well. So, Aspen Kern, a professional player started The Pickleball Forum on Facebook a few years ago and this group has now become the largest platform to share knowledge. Over 33,000 people share their experiences and opinions on the growth and development of the sport. But if you find this group is not for you, there are plenty of other groups to join. There are instructor based groups, and almost every club has its own Facebook page, including Toronto Pickleball Group.
Others have gone online to review products, interview professional players or even… start a blog!
If you love the game of pickleball and you’re interested in becoming further involved in the sport, chances are your work and life experience could be an asset to the development of the game. As someone who first became a player and quickly thereafter a volunteer referee, I believe becoming involved in pickleball off of the court enriches the overall pickleball experience and I highly encourage you
Do you enjoy pickleball off of the court as well, in some capacity? Please leave your comments below!