Pickleball players Marc Sommer and Bev Anderson are making the Fuller Lake courts home base this winter. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Pickleball players Marc Sommer and Bev Anderson are making the Fuller Lake courts home base this winter. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Vancouver Island-bound snowbirds settle for winter pickleball at home

Chemainus couple makes the most of conditions to keep playing the sport they love

In a normal non-COVID year, Marc Sommer and Beverly Anderson would have been playing pickleball under the warm Arizona sun in Tucson.

Instead, the Vancouver Island residents (Chemainus, via the Comox Valley), and grounded snowbirds are staying at home and enduring slightly less desirable weather in order to play their favourite sport at Fuller Lake Park.

They didn’t plan on playing pickleball here from October through March or early April. It’s been an adjustment for Sommer, 60, a retired commercial fisherman, and Anderson, 66, a retired health care worker.

“I don’t think we’ve spent a year in Canada for 20 years,” laughed Sommer. “I think everyone’s going to have to make adjustments with snowbirding. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, but we haven’t had a bunch of snow.

RELATED: Vancouver Island pickleball players long for the good old days

RELATED: North Saanich looks into locking up pickleball courts after hours

His body can feel the difference, but that’s the reality of their climate change.

All snowbirds are in the same boat, so to speak, with travel restrictions and the crunch is especially noticeable on Vancouver Island being the purported best spot for weather year-round in Canada.

“A lot of the R.V. parks are booked solid and hard to get into,” observed Anderson.

Home base is just a little different for Anderson and Sommer, but they’re making the most of it. They’ve been in Chemainus now for five months since last August.

First and foremost, they’re sold on the local pickleball environment that’s been everything they expected. People who play here come all the way from Saltair to Mill Bay in the south.

“The Fuller Lake courts are in a good location for pickleball,” added Sommer. “I would like to see it enhanced. Noise is not an issue.”

For now, play is restricted to singles only and within the same household, with the middle courts closed off for social distancing that leaves just four courts available. Anderson and Sommer have added the necessary equipment for winter play tucked away in the back of their truck.

“We bought rollers, squeegees, court shoes, track pants, wool socks, a leaf blower,” chuckled Sommer.

They’re well equipped to keep the courts cleared for uninterrupted play.

One of the hazards of winter pickleball has also been cracking paddles and the switch to rubber balls necessitated by the cracking of the traditional plastic ball.

“We kind of moved here for the pickleball,” said Sommer. “There’s pickleball in Comox, but the high level pickleball is limited.”

They used to winter in California for about five years before setting up headquarters in Surprise, Arizona and then Tucson. Pickleball consumed their time “six hours a day, seven days a week,” Sommer added.

Both have extensive sports backgrounds and actually met at a squash club. Sommer was a scratch golfer as well as a ski and snowboard instructor and high-level squash player. But the pickleball phenomenon of the last decade proved to be the perfect match for them.

“Pickleball just took over,” acknowledged Anderson. “People used to think even five years ago it was just for old people.”

But since many people have gotten over the stigma of the name, it’s a game that’s captured the interest of athletes from many different backgrounds – especially other racket sports – because of its fast pace.

Anderson is currently a 4.0 sponsored pickleball player for TMPR Sports and Sommer a 5.0 sponsored player for Team Selkirk. That means they receive paddles and clothing from the companies.

Anderson and Sommer have combined their winter pickleball activities with extensive travels. They managed to complete one particularly long circular trek of 55,000 kilometres, going all across Canada to Sydney, Nova Scotia doing pickleball clinics and then heading south to cover the perimeter of the United States all the way back to Arizona.

“Everywhere we went we found pickleball and made very good friends,” noted Sommer.

He said their stops in Prince Edward Island and the New Orleans area were particularly memorable.

“We were lucky to get it in before COVID,” said Anderson.

They drove their truck and pulled a travel trailer. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to retrieve the trailer left in Oregon yet due to the closure of the U.S.-Canada border. And Sommer doesn’t expect it’s going to be opened any time soon.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Local Sports

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Marc Sommer and Bev Anderson moved to Chemainus in part because of the pickleball scene here. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Marc Sommer and Bev Anderson moved to Chemainus in part because of the pickleball scene here. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Bev Anderson watches her footing on the Fuller Lake pickleball courts when they’re slick. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Bev Anderson watches her footing on the Fuller Lake pickleball courts when they’re slick. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Bev Anderson goes low to the court to return the ball. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Bev Anderson goes low to the court to return the ball. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Marc Sommer added pickleball to his already lifelong list of impressive sports credentials. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Marc Sommer added pickleball to his already lifelong list of impressive sports credentials. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Marc Sommer hitting the ball around at Fuller Lake with wife Bev. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Marc Sommer hitting the ball around at Fuller Lake with wife Bev. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Bev Anderson and Marc Sommer haul out the equipment to keep the pickleball courts at Fuller Lake in playing condition. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Bev Anderson and Marc Sommer haul out the equipment to keep the pickleball courts at Fuller Lake in playing condition. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Just Posted

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
SD71 to address COVID-19 exposures with virtual town hall

The meeting is set for Thursday, March 4

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Most Read