Try a new sport for free on Saturday

The city of Sault Ste. Marie is hosting a free Try a Sport Day for community members of all ages at several city athletic facilities on Saturday, June 4th.

The city emphasizes that these are not formal tryouts for any sport, but “fun first events” aimed at keeping people physically active.

Try a Sport Day begins Friday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m. for those wanting to try soccer at Rocky DiPietro Field and lasts until 8:00 p.m

All Saturday 4th June the public can try out:

  • Pickleball, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Elliot Sports Complex
  • Football, 10am to 12pm, Tom Tipton Field
  • Disc Golf, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Penhorwood Park
  • Tennis, 12pm-2pm, North Street Courts
  • Ultimate Frisbee, 12pm-2pm, Rosedale Park
  • Baseball, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., North Street Field
  • Volleyball, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Waterfront Center
  • Waterfront Adventure, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Waterfront Center (minimum age 14)

“It is the first time that we have held this event. We’re doing this as part of the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge,” Jari Pihelgas, City Leisure Supervisor, told SooToday.

The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge runs June 1-30, cash prizes are available to participating communities with the most active populations.

“This is an event we thought we could host for two reasons,” Pihelgas said.

“Firstly, it gets people to move a little bit more, and secondly, it also gets people more involved with different sports. There are a few unique sports that we promote, like disc golf and pickleball, along with our more traditional sports like baseball and soccer.”

Members of the local sports club and city staff will be on hand to teach.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a physical fitness issue in the community, but we’re just always trying to encourage new activities and new things for people in the community to do,” Pihelgas said.

Pickleball, for example, has gained popularity among older people in recent years — but some in their 20s and 30s have also shown an interest.

Similar to tennis, the strokes are the same, like forehand and backhand. It is played with what appears to be a large table tennis racket, the ball is the size of a tennis ball, and the court is 42 feet long like a badminton court.

The sport is generally for doubles – men’s, women’s and mixed – but there are also singles players, with age divisions and open categories.

It has been blithely referred to by pickleball players as a cut-down version of tennis or ping-pong on steroids.

“Pickleball is very popular with older adults. Sports like disc golf and ultimate frisbee are becoming increasingly popular with younger viewers, so we want to encourage those sports as well,” said Pihelgas.

“We’re just trying to get the whole community active.”

The Waterfront Adventure, which takes place on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm, is in partnership with Sault College at its Waterfront Centre.

Unlike the other Try a Sport Day activities, there is a $7.50 per hour fee for paddleboard, kayak, and canoe rentals.

Beach volleyball courts are also available at Sault College Waterfront Centre.

“People can just come to the different sports, they don’t have to register beforehand. All we ask is that they fill out a waiver, and those under the age of 18 that an adult fill out a waiver for them. There was a lot of positive feedback on Try a Sport Day on Facebook and a lot of shares on Facebook. We’ve received many calls and emails asking about it,” Pihelgas said.

Pihelgas said the city is well equipped with leisure facilities and such an event would be welcome after the pandemic lockdowns.

“It’s definitely nice to be able to program events like this again. We are using all of our outdoor sports fields regularly again.”

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