CIRCLEVILLE — In a pickle over losing some of the local courts, the Circleville Pickleball Association approached Circleville City Council to request more courts.
The newly formed organization gave a presentation at a recent Long Range and Strategic Planning Committee meeting where Julie Strawser presented their request and Steve Riffle presented information, including a video about the sport.
“We have a really neat game that we would like to introduce to you,” Strawser said. “Our mission is to foster the growth of pickle ball for all ages in Circleville and the surrounding areas.”
Pickleball was invented in 1965 near Seattle. It’s a game that has similar elements to tennis, badminton and ping-pong that is played on a slightly modified tennis net indoor and outdoors. The game is played with a paddle and plastic ball and can be played with singles or doubles. The court is smaller and players are closer together than in tennis.
Strawser said the group is trying to find a place to play.
“We’ve been playing at Ted Lewis Park with our own nets on the tennis courts that are slated to be eliminated very soon,” she said. “We’d like to have one or two pickleball courts where we can play. Our group met with local leadership earlier this month and they suggested that we meet with your committee to see if we could use and eventually repurpose the basketball courts at Barthelmas Park for pickleball play.”
Strawser said currently, they play indoors at the YMCA and outdoors and Ted Lewis, and that the sport is growing.
“It’s for the whole family, it’s easy to learn and a person can easily get 6,000 to 9,000 steps in during a session of pickleball,” she said. “Pickleball is low cost, it’s fun to laugh and to play. You can be social and you can even go eat after you play because of all the calories you burn in your 60 minutes of pickleball.”
Strawser said she felt there was an economic impact since many local players are going to Lancaster, Grove City or Chillicothe.
“Afterward, they’re filling up their gas tanks or going out to eat and we feel they could be doing that here,” she said. “We’re already supporting local businesses; we met up at the Mexican restaurant after a meeting, but we’d like to do more.”
Beth Mason, the president of the Circleville Park Board, said the courts at Barthelmas Park are used but presented a suggestion to the CPA and council.
“Circleville Youth Baseball is going to move diamond six to the other side of the field,” she said. “That is the t-ball field that’s right beside the basketball courts they could have, and I’ve talked to another park board member, but that whole field in that corner is all available. The basketball courts are used and used a lot this summer. High school kids used the courts all summer since Ted Lewis courts are going to be gone. Between those and the school, that’s the only courts they have use.”
Tom Davis, Pickaway County Park District Director, presented an inventory of basketball courts in Pickaway County. He said there are 52 baskets and left that with the city. The list contains all the locations.
Strawser said their first desire was to convert a tennis court into two pickleball courts and they got a quote for just over $16,000 to do so, but the plan at Ted Lewis called for removing them.
Sheri Theis, council member, said they’d love to see pickleball in Circleville and that Mayor Don McIlroy told her that the idea would be to include permanent courts when Barthelmas Park is renovated, following the addition of the additional acreage that was purchased recently.
“He communicated to me that he was thinking of not permanent courts on the basketball courts, but rather keeping basketball and playing with temporary nets, then when we work on Barthelmas Park, we could incorporate new courts at Barthelmas, but we haven’t decided the overall plans there yet,” she said. “It’s going to be our sports park, so I think it would work very well there.”
Jeff Hallinin, council member, said he thought it was a great idea.
“We’ve been talking about kids and things for them to do and I could see it in their eyes that it looks like fun,” he said. “We’re mixing generations and that would be really great.”