Summit County Pickleball Association helps sport to grow in Summit County
When considering the sports that are gaining in popularity across the U.S. — hockey, lacrosse, boxing and esports often spearhead the list.
However, the sport that is taking over across the U.S. and in Summit County doesn’t take place on the ski slope or trails. Rather, it takes place on the pickleball court.
According to an article written by CNBC, pickleball has very quickly become “America’s fastest-growing sport and is attracting major interest and financial investments.”
The sport has especially skyrocketed in Summit County over the last few years. The surge in popularity is in large part due to the Summit County Pickleball Association, a tax-exempt, all-volunteer, nonprofit that promotes the growth and development of pickleball.
The Summit County Pickleball Association has been in place since 2018 and has grown steadily over the past four years.
“We started maybe with a membership around 50 —when we initially got started — and we are about to top a membership of 500,” Summit County Pickleball Association secretary Julie Worthington said.
The Summit County Pickleball Association offers many activities through a club membership including social events, trips, pickle-potluck brunches, skill clinics, drop-in play times and tournaments.
“The sport has done nothing but continue to grow,” Worthington said. “We have quarterly board meetings, and every meeting our membership is up.”
Worthington attributes the growth of the sport in Summit County to the county’s active population. Residents and visitors alike are often interested in a plethora of recreational activities, and pickleball offers another option.
“Pickleball feeds right into their love for taking care of themselves and the camaraderie that it offers among other fitness individuals,” Worthington said. “That is one reason why our sports continue to grow in leaps and bounds because we have such an active, healthy community in Summit County.”
Pickleball is most accurately described as a mix between tennis, badminton and table tennis.
The Summit County Pickleball Association’s club consists of people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The club is even working on bringing more participants and youth to the sport by providing youth and learn-to-play programs through a partnership with the Silverthorne Recreation Center.
The accessibility that the Summit County Pickleball Association works to provide is one reason why people decide to give the sport a try.
Alongside offering programs geared towards beginners, the Summit County Pickleball Association also offers drop-in play times — to members and nonmembers — seven days a week throughout the summer.
The drop-in play times are spread across Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon and Breckenridge. All four towns offer a place for pickleball players to play, helping the sport to continue to flourish in Summit County.
“It’s very, very busy up here in the pickleball community,” Worthington said. “There are lots of courts available for us to play on.”
Beyond offering a new sport to an active community, many have gravitated to the sport because of how easy the sport is to pick up and play with a diverse variety of participants.
The Underwood family is a prime example. Josh Underwood got introduced to the sport by mis mother, Mary Alice Underwood. Josh, who says he has played competitive sports his entire life, has played for the last few years, while Mary Alice picked up the sport in 2016.
“It’s really cool because we can play together,” Josh Underwood said.
“I love to play with Josh,” Mary Alice said. “I don’t get to play with them (Josh and his wife, Mandy) too often, but I love playing with them. It’s a lot of fun. They can both get to everything, and I don’t have to move very much because they have nice, young legs.”
The Summit County Pickleball Association is hoping to continue to grow over the next few years and is hoping to hold a successful third annual Pickle in the Peaks pickleball tournament from July 14-16 at Rainbow Park in Silverthorne.
The tournament is expected to have over 100 teams this year, easily surpassing the turnout in previous years. The tournament will feature several divisions including men’s and women’s singles, doubles, junior doubles and mixed doubles.
“We were really a small-town tournament that was geared towards our own membership — to give our members who have never participated in a tournament the opportunity to participate,” Worthington said. “What we have found out this year is that people around Colorado and our neighboring states have heard about our tournament.”
There are so many visitors expected to come out to the tournament that Worthington expects that if the pickleball craze continues, the tournament will have to be held in multiple locations instead of just at Rainbow Park.
The tournament fee is $50 per team with a $10 late registration addition after Sunday, July 10. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Smart Bellies.
To sign up for the event or to become a member of the Summit County Pickleball Association, visit SummitPickleball.org.
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