By Kerry Schaefer
local pickleball player 

Pickleball becoming popular connection for Seeley Lake


October 5, 2023

Griffen Smith, Pathfinder

Sherry Foti prepares to send the pickleball back to Dave Spence and Becky Riley. There are six pickleball courts at Seeley Lake Elementary for the public to use.

Our family has been part-time and full-time residents in Seeley Lake since 1969. Beginning part-time with a cabin on Boy Scout Road, situated on Seeley Lake and now full-time residents (except for snowbird time in Arizona) on Salmon Lake.

A lot has changed in the previous 10 years and one of the enjoyable connections we have with Arizona residents and visitors is an active sport taking over America called Pickleball. Once considered a silly name, it is now considered a serious sport and pastime.

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. (Note: One of the largest Pickleball Paddle and accessory companies is Selkirk located just down the road in Coeur d' Alene). No advertisement intended, but they did donate some paddles to the Seeley Lake Elementary School.

Pickleball courts are 20 feet by 44 feet. Four Pickleball Courts can be lined out on one tennis court. The game is played with a hard paddle, a little larger than Ping Pong and a hard wiffle ball. It is fast paced and offers a good cardio workout.

You will find courts in several municipal parks, but several courts are also in resident backyards, driveways, local gymnasiums and playgrounds and even streets. Players will use tape to lay out the lines and portable nets are used to create a simple venue for a Pickleball Match.

But communities are now building or redesigning available areas for Pickleball use (Playgrounds, Tennis Courts, Gymnasiums_ Both indoor and outdoor.

The Arizona "over age 55" resort we still call our winter home, now has seven full-time courts and two courts painted on a tennis court for approximately 275 members in the Resort Pickleball Club.

Pickleball has become a "draw" and an enjoyable way to connect with people along with an excuse to work a little harder to stay in shape. Not to mention the social pleasure gained by meeting others who enjoy the sport as well.

Back to Seeley Lake Pickleball

In very recent years Seeley Lake Pickleball has been enjoyed by a small group that plays on the Elementary Tennis Courts during the summer and inside the school gymnasiums if they can find space and availability in the winter.

Kudos to Carole Rice who has pulled together some interested players who enjoy the sport and wanted to stay active during the summer and winter months.

Recently, with more summer interest, the Seeley Lake Elementary Tennis Courts have been the meeting site of interested Pickleball participants, but the court layout was not conducive or safe for Pickleball due to dangerous court cracks and lack of painted lines and nets.

In April we approached Josh Gibbs, Seeley Lake Elementary Superintendent, about doing some repair work and painting lines on the tennis court site. We believed we could create four permanent Pickleball Courts and two painted line courts on one of the Tennis Courts.

Gibbs listened and shared interest, but also shared the desire to improve the condition of the courts (note: asphalt courts continue to require annual maintenance to repair freeze/thaw damage and the court was full of them). Gibbs also wanted Seeley Lake Elementary students to experience Pickleball as a lifetime sport.

We began to research the issues and opportunities and realized that we needed financial and physical help to accomplish any improvements to the site. Estimates for professional construction of Pickleball Courts can be as high as $40,000 per court plus annual maintenance.

Realizing this was out of the question, we began to brainstorm and reach out to others in the Seeley Lake community for financial help. We reached out to some leads and realized we were "late" in the local cycle application process for possible financial support, and would need to seek funding outside of normal community resources.

Thankfully we contacted Mark Wilson, who has been instrumental with establishing Charlie's Helping Hands. He immediately agreed to help support our idea. It was the kickstart we needed to purchase six high quality portable Pickleball nets to make the existing tennis courts look like there was a future for the project.

In addition, the nets can be used in gymnasiums in the winter. Once the nets were set up and local interested players began playing on the courts, we generated additional financial support and helped repair the tennis court site.

Little by little the courts have become more appealing and safe for this growing community sport. During the summer the group of volunteers would meet 3 days each week to play a little pickleball in the morning and work on the courts after play. Leaving the courts at the end of the day very tired with sore muscles.

With fall and winter coming in the back door we can say we have had a very successful year and we look forward to next year when we hope to see many more of our community friends and visitors join us on the courts (we will train and get you started).

The Internet is loaded with news, training videos and information and you will soon realize why it is reported to be the fastest growing sport in America.


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