Jack Downing sent us this wonderful story of how he created pickleball in a parking lot and how these unique courts have brought people together and created friendships. Here’s Jack’s story:
Having moved to the beautiful “Active Adult Community” of Lakes of Mount Dora which is located about 30 miles north of Orlando, Florida and wanting to remain active I discovered that tennis and pickleball courts were not to be build in the near future. Even with picturesque wandering lakes throughout the community and opportunities to play cards, billiards, darts, use the fitness center and go into the pool it was not enough to get this ol’ heart pounding.
We are a community of about 350 homes that is slated to grow to almost 1000, but the original developer ran into money problems and then new one is slow to “pull the trigger” on adding new amenities. I wanted pickleball now because each year that goes by puts me close to looking up at the dirt instead of playing on it. Wrangling for permission from the Board of Directors for me to paint some lines on the flattest part of a rarely used parking lot near our clubhouse was not easy but “We got ‘er Done”. Once that happened, a group here that gathers aluminum cans to recycle and a reside businesswoman who owns a pool company donated enough for us to buy paint and tape court lines and I was immediately on the phone to PickleballCentral ordering two portable nets and eight paddles.
I called for a meeting and 65 interested residents showed up to find out what this funny sounding game was all about. Not one that showed up had ever held a pickleball paddle before so we started with extreme basics and bought everyone along slowly. That was January of this year and the next week many came out to measure, tape and paint our new courts. We now have 80 people signed up for our club that charges no dues. We play three days each week and I can not begin to tell you how this simple little game has brought so many folks closer together and created friendships. We have no divisions yet so everyone just plays together and we are having fun and teaching each other how to be better players. I’m sure there are those who are reluctant to play on the parking lot surface and that a we would have more players once we get new permanent courts, but the developer has assured as the new courts are coming Meanwhile we play in the parking lot like I did when I played stickball in the street as a kid when we had no ball diamond. Three days each week these 55 to 76 year olds gather and you can hear the ping of the ball on the paddle, lots of laughing, coaching, complementing and a bit of heckling. We love this little oasis for pickleball fun and have affectionately named it “Poverty Park.”