Happy pickleball players will set up a net and enjoy playing on just about any flat surface. That’s just how fun this game is. Let me share a story of the beginnings of the Sylvania Pickleball Club and how we are in the process of going from rags to riches!
Here in Sylvania, Ohio, way in the back corner of the gravel overflow parking lot of our local quarry and amphitheater, there was a large slab of asphalt. It might have been used for something long ago, but it had become just a place to park cars during events.
Pickleball was just starting to be played in the area, and a group of players decided to ask if courts could be painted on this piece of asphalt. The recreation department agreed and painted three courts. Volleyball or similar type nets were strung on a long strip of rope with stick between the courts for support. The courts were slick, had many cracks, and no perimeter fencing so players were constantly chasing balls in the gravel parking lot. The worst part was the marks and oil drips from the cars that parked on them. But, they were a place to play and they were used.
The popularity of pickleball grew. The Toledo Pickleball Club and the Village of Holland built courts that were pristine and a joy to play on. The courts in Sylvania began to sit idle, with only a few people using them. But the number of people playing continued to grow, as did the weeds through the cracks on the Sylvania courts. Eventually, a group players decided it was time to pursue getting pickleball courts in our own community.
A small committee was organized and began by making a presentation to the local recreation district board members. The meeting was on a Tuesday morning at 7:30am, and we invited any current player who was willing to get up that early, to attend. Even we were surprised when 45 active players turned up and packed the board room! The point was made that pickleball was popular before a word was spoken!
After that meeting, we followed up with the director of the recreation district. He had been well informed by the board members of the popularity of pickleball, and had begun working on a plan to get our courts built. First, he promised that by the upcoming spring (2016) the courts on the asphalt slab would be repaired and repainted with grit to help with traction, and would purchase portable nets and a lock box to store them in. This would be a temporary location as he continued to work towards building new courts, but that would take time. A recreation department manager was assigned to oversee the start of the official Sylvania Pickleball Club. True to his word, by spring we had much better courts to play on. Not perfect, but playable and our numbers grew even larger.
Having an idea and a desire to build pickleball courts is only as good as the ability to pay for them. Our community recreation department, like most, doesn’t have money sitting in an account just waiting for a reason to spend it. And, they don’t like to add tax levies to the ballot every year. Instead they wait to have several projects that will benefit the largest amount of the voters and families before asking for money. So the director had to figure out how to pay for courts. And he did! At least for a good chunk of the cost!
Now comes the good news! After a lot of research and work, we were recently informed that Sylvania Recreation District was awarded an Ohio Department of Natural Resources, NatureWorks grant in the amount of $77,662 to build pickleball courts!
We haven’t broken ground yet, but plans are being made to do so after the spring thaw in 2018! A big thanks to everyone involved, especially Director of Recreation, Mike McMahon and the Sylvania Pickleball Club Steering Committee, as well as every club member from age 8 to over 80, who came to play on the temporary courts and showed that pickleball was here to stay! It’s all of you who are helping take this dream one step closer to reality!
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