Prescott Foundation, Community Education, city collaborate for pickleball recreation project
PRESCOTT - Throughout the summer months of 2021, the Prescott Foundation, Community Education and the City of Prescott worked together to finance the painting of pickleball lines on the tennis courts which were already scheduled to be resurfaced during the summer. The desire for additional pickleball space reflects a growing interest in a sport designed for players of all ages that has continued to expand throughout Prescott and surrounding communities.
Pickleball is a sport that combines aspects of several other sports including table tennis, tennis and badminton. The game is played with either two or four players and is a racket sport in which players hit a wiffle ball over a net. Pickleball also includes a court that features dimensions similar to a badminton and tennis court, making it a sport that can share courts with tennis.
The Prescott pickleball phenomenon began approximately three years ago when The Gathering Place opened at Malone Intermediate School. The Gathering Place is a space designed for senior citizens in the Prescott community to be able to enjoy physical activities and play recreational sports. At the time of its opening, the indoor gyms used for The Gathering Place had pickleball lines already painted on the floor.
According to Penny Peterson, Prescott Community Education Director at Prescott School District, because of already-painted lines and the ability of all ages and types of people to play pickleball, the district decided to make pickleball a mainstay for the senior gathering place programming. Peterson stated that the success of pickleball resonated not only with seniors but with people throughout the Prescott community.
“It kind of ebbed and flowed as to the number of people who were interested,” Peterson said. “But then there started to be people that weren’t seniors interested and there wasn’t any place in town to play. There were no outdoor courts and we were limited to the gym.”
The demand for more pickleball time and space continued to grow, according to Peterson. Younger people weren’t able to make the daytime hours like the retired seniors were and they wanted to have nighttime pickleball space available.
During May and June 2020, Peterson and Community Education offered an open pickleball event one evening every week. No sign-up was required. It was essentially an open gym opportunity designed for pickleball players in Prescott. That program lasted throughout the remainder of the year and into the early months of 2021.
Peterson stated that during her regular interactions with pickleball players, she learned that there was a real, growing desire for additional pickleball access. During the late spring and early summer months of 2021, Peterson talked with individuals involved in the Community Education youth tennis program. During those conversations, Peterson was informed that the City of Prescott could be resurfacing the middle school tennis courts.
After hearing about the resurfacing project, Peterson reached out to the City of Prescott and started a conversation which began a resurfacing partnership between the City of Prescott, the Prescott Foundation and Community Education.
The city reached out to the resurfacing company to get an additional quote for the desired pickleball lines. The estimate given was $1,200 for complete pickleball lines on the resurfaced courts. Peterson reached out to the Prescott Foundation which quickly approved a $1,000 grant for the project, covering a majority of the cost. The remaining $200 was covered by the city.
Peterson contacted Dar Hovel, a current member of the Prescott Foundation Board, on April 30 to begin the collaboration process. Hovel spoke of the timing and how the Prescott Foundation could assist with the project.
“She reached out to a couple of people from the board,” Hovel said. “We were like ‘Yeah, this is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the cost savings of the ability to do it all at once.’ We brought it to the foundation, and it was really a win-win for all of the organizations involved.”
During the first week of May, the Prescott Foundation officially approved the $1,000 grant to help finance the project just weeks before the courts were resurfaced in June. Hovel spoke of the immediate positive feedback from the community regarding the new pickleball space at the Prescott Intermediate School.
“People are very much enjoying it,” Hovel said. “People of all ages have been there. There have been people ages 14 to 60 out there playing. Even personally, my family and extended family have been there a lot.”
Hovel also spoke of a pickleball league that plays multiple evenings each week and is steadily growing the sport of pickleball in the Prescott community. It’s one of the many ways, including the resurfacing project, that the game continues to grow in Prescott.
The pickleball resurfacing project isn’t the first example of the Prescott Foundation working to improve an aspect of the community. According to Hovel, the foundation has worked with parks, equipment, ball fields and other aspects of community recreation in years past.
With contribution efforts from the Prescott Foundation, Community Education and the City of Prescott, individuals of all ages now have access to pickleball courts more than ever before in the Prescott community.