Area needs more pickleball courts


As one of the many active retirees living in this area, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to get some exercise and socialize with others. One of my favorite activities these days is playing pickleball. Pickleball, for the uninitiated, is a sport similar to tennis which uses solid paddles and a whiffle ball on a court divided by a net. It is, according to news sources, among the fastest growing sports in the U.S. — particularly among the senior set.

In Escanaba, there is an avid group of players who regularly go to the civic center for a little fun competition and camaraderie. And while it’s wonderful that the city provides this facility for our use (we set up the portable nets in the gym), it means that we can play only at specified times and days. And, because the sport has become so popular, we often have more players than can be accommodated at one time in the three available courts.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could have some permanent indoor and/or outdoor courts provided for this activity? Many U.P. municipalities much smaller than the Escanaba/Gladstone area have been able to install permanent courts. Why not here? It goes without saying that our area has a large population of retirees and senior citizens. While we have many parks and playgrounds for children and recently added a sports program at Bay College with the assistance of benefactors and donations, little has been done to provide activities for our active seniors. Certainly there is plenty of outdoor space where permanent courts could be put in; and given the many recent business closings in our area, there are several empty buildings that could likely be converted to pickleball facilities at minimal cost.

Many communities which have such facilities host tournaments and bring an economic boost to their areas as well. Given the large number of retirees in the U.P., as well as the tourists and snowbirds who regularly play pickleball in southern locales, providing such an attraction would seem to make sense. We already have several people who travel from areas like Munising and Manistique to play pickleball here even with our limited facilities. Imagine what we might be able to do with a permanent location and more playing time.

We would really love to hear ideas and suggestions as to how we might make this a reality. There are many people who would be willing to work on making it happen. Feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook page, Escanaba Pickleball.

Shirley Gollach