Photo of two platers in the middle of a padel match at Rookie + Ace athletic centre.
DAVE KLASSEN PHOTO

ROOKIE + ACE OPENS AS NEW MULTI-SPORT FACILITY FOR PLAYERS OF ALL LEVELS  

On June 21, 2024, Rookie + Ace Multisport opened its doors as the newest sports facility in Kitchener. The 9,000 sq. feet. space is located in Catalyst 137 on Glasgow St., Kitchener and features pickleball, padel and multi-sport court. The facility offers youth and adult programming, including lessons, summer camps and league play.  

Rookie + Ace’s owners, Derek Obermeyer and Cindy Eadie, have over 19 years of experience in youth and adult sports training. Obermeyer is the owner of The Zone Training, a hockey skills development facility with locations in Waterloo and Guelph. Eadie is the VP of Operations at The Zone Training and manages programming at both locations.  

The initial concept for Rookie + Ace was to create a facility like The Zone but focused on pickleball and tennis. Obermeyer said the idea sat on the back burner until a trip to the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York introduced him to a fast-growing sport called padel.  

Created in 1969 in Mexico, padel is played in doubles and combines the scoring system from tennis with the walls of a squash court and solid, stringless paddles like those used in pickleball.  

“Padel is new to North America, but it has been around for quite a long time. I saw it on Instagram and got a chance to try it when I was in New York. The atmosphere was really cool, the game was really cool. I came back and called my realtor and said, ‘I have an idea’,” Obermeyer said.  

Even with the sport’s growing popularity, opening a dedicated padel facility was a risky proposition. Obermeyer and Eadie looked at their experience with The Zone and decided to include a pickleball court and a multi-sport court to offer a variety of programming for youth and adult athletes.  

“We thought if we had a couple of courts, we could fill those during the day with adult programming. We were able to fit in both a pickleball and padel court, making us the only padel court outside of the GTA,” he said.  

According to the International Padel Federation, over 25 million people in 110 countries play the sport. Obermeyer said padel is the best part of racquet sports like tennis, squash, and pickleball wrapped into one game.   

“Everybody that plays it falls in love with it quick. We are excited to bring the first paddle court to the area, but we are not a paddle club or a pickleball club. We are a multi-sport facility,” Obermeyer said.  

Rookie + Ace offers summer and PD Day camps, youth and adult lessons, and league play in multiple sports. There are learn-to-play sessions for pickleball and padel, and the facility’s multi-sport court can be used for almost any floor-based sport, including soccer, basketball, floor hockey, and dodgeball. The courts can also be rented for private events and birthday parties.  

Obermeyer said the multi-sport camps and sessions give children an opportunity to try out different sports.  

He added that these programs are designed to help parents and children try out a sport before committing to a full season,  

“If you’ve signed up your child for soccer, but they end up not liking it, it’ll be like pulling teeth for the next three months. Our programming provides kids with an opportunity to try different sports and figure out what they want to pursue,” he said.  

Obermeyer also said that Rookie + Ace’s mission is to help expose people to new sports and inspire them to live active lifestyles.   

“We’re not looking to attract high-level pickleball or padel players to the facility. It is the opposite. We are looking for people who have never tried these sports and giving them a chance to learn something new.”