I heard it through the Pickleball Grapevine (actually, it was a tip to look at the USAPA.org website) that Maureen Groth had raised funds and refurbished an old, un-used tennis court into 2 beautiful pickleball courts in Gackle, North Dakota, population 300. You are going to love her story. Enjoy!
Once a Physical Education (PE) teacher, always a PE teacher! Maureen retired from teaching five years ago. She taught pickleball in school and even invented her own game, “Eclipse Ball”, with special rules for her students. Last winter, she visited the Palm Creek 55+ community in Casa Grande, Arizona and found herself in “pickleball paradise”. Everyday the courts were full, and she re-captured her love of the game.
When she returned home to Gackle, she saw an icky, old tennis court that nobody used and wanted to find a way to convert it into pickleball courts. She asked her husband to help, but his response at that time was “Everybody isn’t as excited about pickleball as you are.”
Where there is a will there is a way! Maureen created a 6-week walking program to begin raising funds for the court conversion. She charged a fee for the program and included a t-shirt and a free pedometer for each participant. She expected 100 people, and 200 people signed up! Through that walking program, she raised $1200. As word got out, money started coming in from local groups, families and businesses, like the utility company. She received donations upward of $1,000-$2,000 per group.
Altogether, she raised $11,000 for the conversion of 1 tennis court into 2 pickleball courts. Her plans did hit a bit of a snag, though. Since physical fitness was in her blood, she was also on a softball team. She was the pitcher for the team, and while at bat, she fell rounding first base, and broke both bones at the knee in her leg. She was laid up for three months and beside herself about what to do about those courts.
The courts needed to be repaired and painted. She had ordered the nets and paint last May. She intended to do most of the work herself.
Her husband Ron stepped in and did all of the court repairs and rolled all the paint, with help from their son-in-law.
It took 3 days to put down two coats. The paint she used was EnviroCoat she bought from Mark Mennemeyer at The Court Store in Toccoa, Georgia. The videos on The Court Store website were very helpful in showing how to paint the court.
Maureen had to put her plans for starting leagues and tournaments on hold last summer until her leg healed.
She did go ahead and collected wood paddles from the local school and put those paddles and some balls in rubber totes with lids in storage benches next to the court. Anyone in the community can drop by and use the equipment provided.
In 1 year, the equipment has not “walked off” and is still being used by anyone in the community who wants to play pickleball.
Maureen loves to win. She can’t get rid of her competitive streak. Her husband enjoyed playing tennis with Maureen in past years, and she admits now that he occasionally kicks her butt in pickleball. Her grand-children and daughters have also become fans of the game.
She also now has a reputation! One day, a friend from the nearby town of Steele called. Apparently, folks from surrounding communities have taken notice of her efforts to promote pickleball and are calling Maureen for advice on how to raise funds and convert tennis courts into pickleball courts in their own communities.
Maureen had enough left over from last year to be able to plan to re-paint the court this year. Maureen’s goal this year, once the weather cooperates, is to teach the rules of the game to 50 people in the community. She may even host a 4th of July tournament and a pickleball tournament at church this year.
Sadly, pickleball is not offered in the schools any more. This may change, however, as the popularity of the game of pickleball continues to grow in the community.
Thank you Maureen for sharing your story with us. You are truly an inspiration to everyone who wants to grow pickleball in their own communities.