Quesnel pickleball players showed off their teamwork and racket skills at the 55+ B.C. Games in Cranbrook last week (Sept. 12-15), picking up gold medals in women’s doubles and a bronze in mixed doubles.
Sharon MacDonald and Sherry Jasper teamed up to win the women’s doubles title, while McDonald paired with Rick Prosk to take the mixed doubles bronze.
MacDonald and Jasper have known each other for quite some time, so were happy they achieved the golden victory as a team.
“Our children grew up together,” MacDonald says. “They used to live on our street and we both go to Arizona.”
The pair have been playing together recreationally for the last year and were approached by Prosk to take part in the senior games.
“I asked her to be my partner as she was by far the best of the selection,” MacDonald says.
Jasper, who for a long time considered herself a horse person, was won over by pickleball in recent years.
“It’s exercise wrapped up in fun and laughing,” she says. “And it’s not just about the physicality of the sport. It’s the thinking and the game-play that are appealing too.”
She credits a lot of the team’s success in Cranbrook with using their heads.
“As soon as we started to get down in games, we adjusted our play to match the team we were against,” she says.
MacDonald agreed, breaking down some of their strategy for prospective competitors looking for tips.
“It’s not just about slapping the ball. A lot of new players come out here and they want to hit the ball hard, while the real game is normally up at the kitchen,” she says, referring to the front court or area nearest the net.
“What you try to do is set up a play. Hopefully you move those two players out to the sideline, so you’ve got a direct shot through the middle. Or, you try to get them bunched up, so you can lob over their head.”
The team won in the 3.0 division and will look to repeat its success in the 3.25 division next year.
MacDonald says her medal with Prosk was a little more unexpected, as they lost their first two games.
“When we won our first game, [Prosk] was excited because it was the first game he’d won all week,” she says.
“And then when we won the medal it was incredible, as this man who teaches so many sports to so many people for so many years had never won a medal in his life, so he had this bronze medal and was just ecstatic.”
Prosk is the coordinator for Quesnel Special Olympics and is often selflessly donating his time to the betterment of others, so this victory is well deserved.
“I’ll admit it was pretty exciting,” he says.
“I have been coaching kids, then teenagers, and finally Special Olympics athletes since 1983 and in that time, I have only participated in recreational sports myself, so to put myself out there as a competitor was pretty freaky at first.
“I was pretty nervous for the first two days, and even into the final day, but Sharon Macdonald, my doubles partner, did a good job of helping me to stay focused and be positive.”