A Leadership Fayette group, in conjunction with the City of Washington Court House, recently resurfaced the old Eyman Park tennis courts to meet requirements for new pickleball courts, and will hold a grand opening this Saturday.
“This Leadership Fayette group decided on revitalization of the Eyman Park courts because a friend was expressing how she wished we had outdoor pickleball courts in our community,” Amy Joseph, director at the Fayette County Early Learning Center, said. “Leadership Fayette is a program designed to produce servant leadership in the community. This program has worked to encourage individuals to become more aware of where they live in and the importance of having a vested interest in their community. Each participant works in a group to provide a service project in the community.”
This particular group of individuals; Joseph, Jessica Merritt (Head Start Family Services coordinator), and Melinda Hellard (program coordinator at Community Action Commission (CAC) – Fayette Inn) has worked with City Manager Joe Denen to re-surface the old tennis courts at Eyman Park. These tennis courts have been shortened to meet requirements for playing pickleball. There are currently pickleball classes held at the local YMCA and these courts could provide them with an outdoor option to play.
“The next step in our revitalization process involves a pickleball court grand opening event,” Joseph said. “Our group is now working with Suzie McCracken and the YMCA to organize a round robin to advertise the opening of the courts. Our event is scheduled for this Saturday, September 22 at 10 a.m. The cost is only 10 dollars a person or 20 dollars for a couple, and includes a free t-shirt. There is a $100 first place team prize and a $50 second place team prize. Please join us to play or just to watch.”
Applications can be picked up at the Fayette County Family YMCA at 100 Civic Drive in Washington C.H., Community Action Commission of Fayette County at 1400 U.S. Rt. 22 NW, or at the Commission on Aging at 1179 S. Elm St. Organizers ask that interested parties turn applications in at one of these places along with payment as soon as possible or before 4 p.m. on Friday.
According to Joseph, pickleball — a game resembling tennis in which players use paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net — started by accident one evening in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington. That evening when Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell returned to the Pritchard residence to find Pritchard’s family sitting around, bored with nothing to do, they decided to use an old badminton court on the property to entice the family to play.
When Bell and Pritchard could not find a full set of Badminton equipment, they improvised and used ping-pong paddles and a whiffle ball. After playing for awhile, they decided the net was too high and lowered it down to 36 inches.
Barney McCallum was invited over the following weekend and was introduced to the newfound game. The three men quickly became invested in the game and started to create rules which relied heavily on the game of badminton. Pritchard, Bell and McCallum continued to keep the ultimate goal of the game in mind: for people of all ages to be able to play together.
The name “Pickleball” came about because the Pritchard family had a dog named “Pickles,” and he kept stealing the ball as they played and running away with it. One day in their cabin they were trying to find a name for the new game and Pickles was their inspiration.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.