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Bike polo players want to bring game to Garfield Park
EVERETT - Bike polo, a growing sport that adapts horse polo to urban playing environments, may be coming to Garfield Park’s tennis courts soon if players can get the city’s approval.
Seattle bicycle messengers invented the sport a decade ago to have something to do during their down time. The sport has caught on in recent years, and Everett has a group of about a dozen regular players.
Players here make their own mallets and almost everyone owns a bicycle. They play with a street hockey ball.
Everett player Jared Kalinski, 29, wants to bring bike polo games to Garfield Park. He will be proposing the idea to the Riverside Neighborhood this week.
The parks department is considering letting the games happen on the tennis courts, but the department wants to know what the neighborhood thinks first, assistant parks director Lori Cummings said last week.
Bike polo wouldn’t supplant tennis, Cummings said. The parks department must approve the idea before bike polo could start at Garfield Park, she said.
Kalinski sees bike polo as a way to reinvigorate the tennis court while introducing a new sport to young people. He thinks the neighborhood will be receptive to the idea.
“We want to bring life back to the park,” Kalinski said.
The group plays its pickup games on the North Middle School tennis courts right now, but it’s not the ideal spot.
Bike polo is meant to be played in an enclosed space, and it doesn’t work well on the middle school courts because they’re too open, Kalinski said.
After removing the net, the court would be a perfect place to play, Kalinski said. The net would be put back up afterward, he said.
At North Middle School, the pickup games are informal 3-on-3 matches. Usually someone has an extra bike and mallet for anyone wanting to join in, Kalinski said.
“It’s a great game; it’s very simple,” Kalinski said.
The mallets are made out of steel piping. The do-it-yourself ethic attracts people to the sport, Kalinski said. Although, he said, mallet making is becoming a burgeoning industry.
“It’s a pretty finesse sport, you don’t want to run into someone’s bike,” Kalinski said.
Players learn the skill of holding a mallet, riding a bike and keeping their eyes on the court, he said. There rarely are crashes.
The sport is growing nationally. In 2008, the sport had 26 regular tournaments nationwide. By last year, the figure grew to 171 tournaments, Kalinski, who is tracking the sport, said.
Kalinski got into playing bike polo after hearing about it from a friend who plays at Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park.
Kalinski and a few of his buddies started the Everett bike polo group last summer, playing games on the roller hockey court at Forest Park.
They got booted from the park by a park ranger last fall.
The players were told to leave because the court’s surface is a special surface and can’t handle the wear and tear of bikes, Kalinski said.
“It’s unfortunate because roller hockey is a dying sport,” Kalinski said.

 

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