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Whistler summer sports preview

Pique caught up with many of Whistler’s sports organizations to find out what is happening this summer.
Beach Volleyball
Optimism is high for summer sports groups in Whistler ahead of the 2021 season.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, the status of Whistler’s usual summer sports and activities is still up in the air. This week, Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that low-intensity, indoor fitness classes with limited capacity can return, while outdoor local team games and practices for all ages can also resume—but with no spectators. If all goes well, spectators will be allowed at outdoor games starting June 15.

So, if you are one of the many people hoping to get out and enjoy some sports this summer but aren’t sure what’s available or where to look, consider this your guide to Whistler’s summer sports scene.

Whistler Racket Club—‘It’s the place to be’

Much like its slogan suggests, the Whistler Racket Club (WRC) is definitely one of the places to be this summer. With their vast outdoor spaces and COVID-19-friendly sports, the current restrictions aren’t expected to be much of a problem for the WRC.

According to co-director Jamie Grant, the club is following all COVID-19 protocols but with the outdoor and spaced-out nature of the sports they offer, like tennis and pickleball, they are, for the most part, hoping for business as usual this summer.

On top of tennis and pickleball, the WRC also has axe throwing, a kids’ play zone, roller disco and will be hosting the Whistler Farmers’ Market every Sunday.

It’s also planning on running tennis and pickleball programs for both adults and children throughout the summer as well as kids combo camps, so long as they fit under the province’s COVID-19 protocols.

For more information on the WRC’s summer programs and activities, visit www.mywrc.ca.

Slo-Pitch

The Whistler Slo Pitch Association isn’t quite full steam ahead like the WRC but league convenor Sarah Smith is “optimistic that we will get some sort of season in.”

“Last year we got to play at the beginning of July. I still feel like that is almost our worst-case scenario that we don’t get to start until July, but unfortunately COVID will keep us on our toes,” she said.

When, or if, the season gets underway, there will be a number of COVID rules in place to keep everyone as safe as possible while on the field. These rule changes may include things like no tagging, consistent sanitization of shared equipment, individual batting helmets and possibly the use of masks in dugouts.

Staying consistent with how it worked last season, each of the five divisions will play on a different night of the week and will have a maximum of eight teams in order to help with scheduling.

For more info about the 2021 slo-pitch season, go to whistlerslopitch.com

Disc Golf

Much like actual golf, or “ball golf,” as president of the Whistler Disc Golf Association (WDGA), Morgan Rosato calls it, disc golf is essentially unencumbered by the current COVID-19 restrictions and has drastically increased in popularity over the last year as people looked for ways to escape to some sense of normalcy.

Whistler currently has two official courses. One at the RV park just outside of town and one in the park at Lost Lake, but the WDGA is working on building another as demand for the sport continues to rise.

The courses are free to use, but Rosato urges people to stick to groups of four to obey current pandemic protocols.

For those interested in getting into disc golf but unsure of where to start, Rosato said people can get in touch with the club at whistlerdiscgolfclub@gmail.com or reach out on its Facebook page. From there the club can assist with finding a set of discs and also answer any questions that may come up.

WDGA also has discs for sale at Poolside Spa in Function Junction starting as low as $15, with all the proceeds going toward “promoting the sport in the Sea to Sky corridor,” said Rosato.

“We’re not just trying to grow it in Whistler, but we’re trying to get other courses too and maybe put our older baskets into some schools or other park areas if we get permission, just to get people exposed to it in their neighbourhoods.”

As soon as restrictions allow, the WDGA will get back to its usual weekly events, which include doubles night every Tuesday and Sunday Funday’s, when people who have purchased a pass can compete to move up the leaderboard.

Rugby

According to the Axemen Rugby Club’s website, “all Axemen teams are on current hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions lift in the province.” However, there is still hope for those wanting to get out on the pitch this summer.

“We hopefully got some pretty exciting stuff planned, all dependant on what the restrictions look like [this] week, but we have some stuff moving forward in Whistler and Squamish,” said Blake Mahovic, director of rugby for the Axemen.

According to Mahovic, there are options within the club for anyone who wants to get involved regardless of experience or skill level, whether you just want to get out and play some casual weekly touch rugby or compete in a league.

Once restrictions are lifted enough to allow it, both the men’s and women’s Axemen teams will begin training for league play. There are currently two men’s teams; one competes in the B.C. first division of the Mainland League and the other takes a more casual approach and competes in the third division.

Also dependant on restrictions, the Axemen will be hosting drop-in sessions once a week “definitely in Squamish and we’re hoping for Whistler as well,” said Mahovic.

“It’s open to everyone and is a very fun, low-commitment kind of approach to rugby. We will absolutely be teaching people the skills they need to play the games, but it’s mostly just about getting people together and playing games and having fun.”

Mahovic is hopeful that they will be able to start organizing events sooner rather than later and said, “it’s definitely not a case of if, it’s a case of when” they will be able to do so.

For more information, visit axemenrugbyclub.com or search them up on Facebook.

If you are more inclined towards Rugby Legue than Rugby Union there is also the Whistler Wolves team, who are hoping to get up and running as soon as possible as well.

To get involved with them, you can get in touch with the president of the club, Blake Stewart, by searching Whistler Wolves on Facebook.

Beach Volleyball

While optimism has been the theme for most of the summer sports leagues and clubs in and around Whistler, unfortunately the same can’t be said for beach volleyball.

After missing all of last year’s season, Scott Rodgers, executive director of the Whistler Outdoor Volleyball Association (WOVA), expects the same might be in store for the 2021 season as well.

“Right now it looks like current guidelines are for players to maintain three metres separation on the court and no active challenging at the net,” he said.

“So, what that means for the more competitive divisions is that hitting a ball goes uncontested, which changes everything. There are three divisions that are four on four, and the court itself is [eight feet by eight feet] so try and imagine what it’s like for players to stay three steps apart on a court where there’s really not much more room for them to move.”

Usually, WOVA’s season lasts 12 weeks. And while that is out of the question, there is still some potential to do some sort of shorter season this year, although it is “unlikely,” according to Rodgers.

“We’ve got to think about overall health concerns first,” he said. “But the courts are set up at Rainbow Park so nothing is stopping people from getting out and playing on their own with people in their bubble. Hopefully that satisfies until the bigger picture is more promising.”

Visit wova.ca for more information.

 

Pique will catch up with other summer activity groups in the coming weeks. If you are with a group and want to share your summer plans, reach out to sports@piquenewsmagazine.