Holly Van Pelt, left, and Janie Leask, right, compete in the mixed doubles.-Photo provided

Holly Van Pelt, left, and Janie Leask, right, compete in the mixed doubles.-Photo provided

Homer pickleball players bring home the gold

One of Homer’s newest sports might have a funny name, but pickleball has become a great sport accessible to all ages. 

It’s played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court with an oversized ping pong paddle and a whiffle ball. It combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong and can be very fast and competitive. In Homer, pickleball meets in the historic gym 5:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and noon-2 p.m. Sundays at the Homer Education and Recreational Complex.

A delegation of five players represented Homer at the Alaska International Senior Games held in Fairbanks Aug. 7-16. When the games ended, they brought back six gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

The Alaska International Senior Games were established in 2003 to offer adults age 50 and older the opportunity to compete with peers in a variety of activities and, more generally, to enhance their fitness, health and quality of life. All team sports are offered separately for men and women in the following age divisions: 50+, 55+, 60+, 65+, 70+, and 75+. Medals are awarded for first, second and third places.  

The following Homer residents medaled in their respective age brackets:

• Jeff Sharp and Janie Leask took gold in mixed pickleball doubles;

• Dru and Tim Renschler took bronze in mixed pickleball doubles;

• Holly Van Pelt and Janie Leask took gold in women’s pickleball doubles;

• Tim Renschler took silver in men’s pickleball doubles;

• Janie Leask took gold in women’s pickleball singles; and

• Tim Renschler took gold in men’s trapshooting.

In addition to the “official” Homer delegation, two Fairbanks residents who spend their summers in Homer, Dan and Donna Holleman, took gold in their age bracket for mixed pickleball doubles. Dan took a gold medal in pickleball in both men’s doubles and men’s singles.

Carolyn Bagley represented Homer at this year’s National Senior Games which were recently held in Minneapolis, Minn.  She is ranked number 1 in her age group in pickleball, was awarded a silver medal in singles, and came in fourth in doubles. 

When she returned to Homer, Bagley held a first-ever pickleball clinic at the Homer Education and Recreational Complex, where she taught a packed gym various dink, angle and drop shots as well as the strategic placement of the ball.

The fun and successful pickleball program would not be possible without the many volunteers and all that they do: making sure forms are signed, setting up the courts, open and closing the building, ensuring the flow of the game for all abilities and providing general supervision. We are all very thankful for their time and commitment allowing the program to be affordable and accessible to community members.

“It takes a village” to ensure the building is open and the courts are maintained.  The Homer pickleball community expresses much gratitude to the city of Homer and the Homer Community Recreation Program for their support in making the HERC gym available for pickleball and other sports. Providing life-long recreational opportunities to people of all ages is critically important to a healthy community.

Janie Leask is an avid pickleball player who lives in Homer.



5:30-7:30 p.m. 

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 

noon-2 p.m. Sundays 

Where: Homer Education and Recreational Complex gym

Fee: $3 a visit, for ages 14 and older

For more information:

Call Mike Flora, 235-6437 or visit http://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/recreation/pickle-ball

Jeff Sharp, left, and Janie Leask

Jeff Sharp, left, and Janie Leask

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