Players enjoy getting into a pickle
"You're playing what?"
The Rochester Area Pickleball Association is growing and expected to boom with the addition of new pickleball courts at Cooke Park.
Described as a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis, Pickleball is played with a solid paddle and a plastic, perforated ball resembling a Wiffle ball.
Surprisingly, the sport has nothing to do with pickles. It was first introduced in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle as a backyard family game on a badminton-sized court. One anecdote says the sport got its name from the originator's wife because "the combination of different sports reminded her of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats."
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, according to the USA Pickleball Association . Currently, the USAPA is tracking more than 200,000 pickleball players and 9,863 pickleball courts in North America, with an average of 62 new places to play pickleball debuting across the U.S. and Canada each month.
One thriving spot for pickleball is Rochester.
Jan Czaplewski, the president of the Rochester Area Pickleball Association, says that the club is seeing "more and more people all the time."
The Rochester Area Pickleball Association was unofficially started about eight years ago. Since then, the club became an official association in September 2015 and now has 106 paying members.
Sure to draw in interested pickleballers are the new courts at Cooke Park that will be unveiled this summer.
Two tennis courts are being transformed into six pickleball courts, with completion scheduled for Aug. 1.
The construction consists of three phases: destroying the old courts and getting the base ready, laying down two layers of asphalt and a layer of acrylic textured paint, and finally painting the lines and putting up the nets.
The Rochester Area Pickleball Association has been seeking new courts for years, but the problem was no one really knew what the sport was or the costs to attain it. After years of members personally donating their own money and organizing fundraisers, the club reached out to the Rochester Parks and Recreation Department. The club received grants from community organizations and financial help from the park board to build courts solely for pickleball.
"The new courts will generate a lot of interest," Czaplewski said. "You can play with 24 people on the courts."
Dale Haigh, an avid pickleball player and club member, says he's "very excited" about the new courts. He's hoping that it will spark an interest as well as bring tournaments to Rochester.
Czaplewski stressed that pickleball is open to all ages and anyone with a passion for being active. Individuals can become members or simply participate for recreation.
"Even (Minnesota Vikings player) Marcus Sherels plays with us," Czaplewski said.
Since the Cooke Park courts are not yet completed, pickleballers are invited to play at the Rochester Recreation Center and at Goose Egg Park.
For more information about pickleball in Rochester visit www.rochesterpickleball.com or the association's Facebook club page . Search on Facebook for "Rochester Pickleball."