Summit pickleball association pitches sport-specific facilities to meet demand
Summit resident Julie Worthington says a local sports association is struggling to keep up with demand for one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S.: pickleball.
“Summit County is already one of the most well-known vacation destinations in the nation,” Worthington said. “And a dedicated pickleball facility would allow us to not only host numerous tournaments but attract people taking vacations knowing about where people can go play pickleball.”
Pickleball is a racket sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis, typically on a court that is about half the size of a tennis court.
Worthington, secretary for the Summit County Pickleball Association, said interest in the sport over the past year has grown substantially. The association’s president, Lori Miller, said the organization has expanded from 50 to more than 300 members in the past three years. That interest, Miller said, has resulted in sometimes having 40-50 pickleball players show up to courts in the county over the summer. Even at a facility with four courts, those numbers mean only 16 players can play the game at once with as many as 30 waiting.
In an effort to prevent that scenario, the association has conducted community outreach this summer and fall to see if it’s possible to construct any pickleball-specific courts in the county or convert preexisting facilities to pickleball.
Worthington and Miller said pickleball-specific courts would be ideal for pickleballers and tennis players, as the additional striping of tennis courts or other playing surfaces for pickleball can lead to confusion. As a result, the association has pitched to the town of Silverthorne to convert the tennis courts at Trent Park in Silverthorne to six dedicated pickleball courts.
“Land is a premium in Summit County,” Miller said. “It’s hard to find a place.”
Town of Silverthorne Assistant Town Manager Mark Leidal wrote in an email Thursday evening that Silverthorne has received many comments from community members regarding the town’s planned updates to its Parks, Open Space and Trails Plan. Leidal added that the town will work through the planning process in the months to come.
Worthington said if the association is unable to cultivate its pickleball courts at Trent Park — potentially due to a lack of parking — she believes Rainbow Park right behind the Silverthorne Recreation Center could be a “more realistic” option.
In the association’s proposal to the town of Silverthorne, Miller said the association pledged to finance the entire project, which would run between $19,000 and $35,000.
If courts in Silverthorne don’t work out, Miller said the association is also interested in converting existing tennis courts to pickleball courts in Frisco and Dillon.
Worthington said another element of the association’s vision to grow the sport in Summit County is to foster and build the game with low-cost developmental programs for kids and families with Summit School District.
“But we cannot think about developing programs for kids and families because we don’t have the room to handle it right now,” Worthington said.
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