By Rick Palsgrove
The fun game with the funny name is growing in Groveport leading to the creation of the Groveport Pickleball Club
Pickleball was created in the 1960s. Legend has it the game is named for the inventor’s dog, “Pickles,” because the pooch liked to run off with the ball and be chased by the players who tried to retrieve it.
According to information from the Groveport Recreation Center, the game combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping pong. It is played on a badminton sized court with a net that is 34 inches high. Players use wood or composite flat, smooth paddles to strike a plastic ball similar to a wiffle ball (the paddle striking the ball makes a distinctive “pock” sound). You can play either singles or doubles.
“I like pickleball because it’s fun, it gets me looking forward to exercise and provides an outlet for competition,” said avid pickleball player and Groveport City Councilman Scott Lockett.
Lockett said the Groveport Pickleball Club was created to: enable the purchase of pickleball equipment and store it in a storage bin at Degenhart Park (located at the south end of Lesleh Avenue in Groveport); to have a say in how pickleball time is allotted at Degenhart Park in the summer and at the Groveport Recreation Center in the winter; provide communication between players; grow the sport locally; and develop and promote leagues, tournaments, gatherings/events, community involvement, group and individual lessons, and mentorship.
“The Groveport Recreation Center is very helpful in expanding times available to pickleball players,” said Lockett.
The cost to join the Groveport Pickleball Club is $20. Membership runs from March 1 to Feb. 28.
“Membership allows members to participate in the club activities, have access to equipment at Degenhart Park, and provide input into our Facebook page and website,” said Lockett. “We are working with the Groveport Recreation Center to incentivize membership.
Membership may include two or three free day passes so that members can bring their friends to the rec center.”
Currently the Groveport Recreation Center, 7370 Groveport Road, provides these times for pickleball: Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon with six courts open; Friday from 8 a.m. to noon with three courts open; Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. with three courts open; and Sunday from 2-4 p.m. with three courts open.
“We’re trying to designate courts for beginners, intermediate, and more advanced players,” said Lockett. “We are pushing to get this expanded to six courts. That would give three full mornings a week with all six courts open.”
Lockett said that, during these times, there is open, or drop-in play, which means anyone can come and play. Four people play at a time on one court.
“We have somewhere around 40 to 45 players who have played at some point during the last month,” said Lockett. “Typically we have about 30 to 35 players on a Monday and Wednesday. If we open up all six courts three days a week, Groveport will become a destination for pickleball players. We get many comments from people from other places who come to play here. They like that we have six courts and that play is somewhat based on skill level. Groveport is a popular place for pickleball players.”
Lockett said anyone can join the Groveport Pickleball Club. The club will begin accepting memberships in February so it can be ready to begin in the spring.
“We plan to have our first tournament on March 17,” said Lockett. “We will begin sign ups in February with the maximum number of players set at 30 to 36. We will try to organize ladder leagues for summer play.”
Lockett said the Groveport Recreation Center is “a great place to play pickleball in the winter.”
The recreation center also has lessons for beginners and intermediate players.
“These players then join our playing group,” said Lockett. “In the summer, Degenhart Park is ideal. It is partially shaded in the mornings and late afternoon, has a restroom, and water fountain. People love playing at Degenhart Park.”
He said players mostly come from Groveport, southeast Columbus, Pickerington, Canal Winchester, Lithopolis, Ashville, Lancaster, and Reynoldsburg.
Pickleball is a sport for all ages.
“In our group, most players are older and retired or semi-retired,” said Lockett. “However, we are seeing more and more younger people all the time. I know there are people who have bought memberships at the recreation center just so they could have a place to play pickleball. Overall, the group is very welcoming and helpful. People comment about how well they are received as new members joining a group.”
Lockett said pickleball provides players a chance to exercise and be competitive, plus it is affordable.
“It’s an inexpensive sport – a decent beginning pickleball paddle can be purchased for $25,” said Lockett. “Pickleball can be easily played by beginners. A good thing about pickleball is you are always improving. It’s amazing to see players who come as beginners and to watch their improvement.”
For information on the Groveport Pickleball Club, email GPBC614@gmail.com or call Lockett at 614-804-0976.
For information on the Groveport Recreation Center’s Adult Pickleball Ladder League, Adult Pickleball classes, Youth Pickleball Camp, and the Cruiser Classic Pickleball Tournament, visit groveportrec.com or call 614-836-1000.