Less demanding than tennis, pickleball opportunities expanded in Pelican Rapids

This is the pickleball crew that played August 1 at the Pelican Rapids school tennis courts.
From left, Cyndy Stotesbery, Sheri O’Brien, Cyndy Pullen, William Nord, Dennis Pullen, Virg Kollar, Kim Kollar and Cody Nord.
Cyndy Stotesbery, foreground, and William Nord.

“A playground for mature adults.”

That’s how Cyndy Stotesbery described “Pickleball,” as she lobbied the Pelican Rapids City Council for nearly $7,000 to help modify the Pelican school courts to enable both tennis and pickleball.

She was successful.

“It’s a great physical activity for all ages,” said Stotesbery at the July 31 Pelican Rapids City Council meeting.

But the game, which is less demanding than tennis, has become especially popular with men and women of a “certain age.”

The paddles are similar to a large ping pong paddle, which strikes a whiffle ball.

Presently, there are more than a dozen regulars playing pickleball at the school tennis courts, by adapting the courts to a smaller playing area.

The tennis courts are on Pelican school property, near the baseball and softball diamonds.

“It’s growing in popularity,” said Stotesbery, noting that Cormorant is planning a court; Dent has one already established; and Detroit Lakes is planning six courts. Courts have also been established at the Dunvilla condominium complex, on Lake Lizzie.

In Pelican, the two tennis courts can be reconfigured to allow four pickle- ball courts. The layout wouldn’t impact the tennis nets and court.

Trevor Steeves attended the July 31 city meeting, representing the Pelican school as facilities superintendent, said, “we have far more pickleball players than we have tennis players.”

The school approved the configuration for pickleball; while the city was asked to purchase the nets, posts and fixtures–which school staff would install.

“We could fill the courts,” said Stotesbery. “It’s great fitness, fun and a lot of laughs,” adding that there are several high school students who also come over to play.

Under the arrangement with the city, the school will purchase the approximate $7,000 for the nets and equipment.

The school will then bill the city for the equipment.

What is the History of Pickleball?

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard and businessman Bill Bell in Bainbridge Island, Washington. The two began developing the game over the course of a weekend after not having enough rackets to play badminton with their families.

Instead of badminton rackets, Pritchard and Bell used ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.

Pickleball enthusiasts formed the USA Pickleball Association in 1984 in order to grow and advance the game on a national level. Later that same year, the USA Pickleball Association released the game’s first official rulebook. Within six years, people were playing the game in all 50 states. As of 2015, there are more than 2,000 places to play the game in the United States.

PHOTOS BY LOUIS HOGLUND