Written by Jamie Polley
What is pickleball you ask?
Well, it’s one of the fastest growing sports throughout the United States and Canada. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association 2016 participant report:
There are more than 2.5 million pickleball players in the United States.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, close to Seattle, WA, by 3 dads who wanted to find something new for their children to do in the summer. It’s a game for all ages — although it’s most frequently linked to older adults — and is now taught in many of our schools in Marathon County as a Physical Education unit.
The sport is a combination of several elements of tennis, badminton, and Ping-Pong. It can be played year-round, both indoors and outdoors, and as singles or as doubles.
Players use paddles a bit larger than Ping-Pong paddles to hit a plastic ball with holes over a net. The size of the court is 20 ft x 44 ft (which originated based on the width of a local street).
If interested, you can get a fun overview of pickleball in the video below:
Beginning in 2013, many of Marathon County’s tennis courts were lined for pickleball, too — starting with 3M Park, making the facilities multiuse. However, a tennis net is slightly higher than a pickleball net, so shared courts are not always ideal.
In 2015, the County converted basketball courts in Marathon Park into 3 dedicated pickleball courts.
The masterplan of the area was to convert the 2 tennis courts adjacent to the 3 existing pickleball courts into 6 dedicated pickleball courts, for a total of 9 pickleball courts. The project was submitted as a Capital Improvement Project for 2019, but was not funded.
The growth of the sport here in Marathon County has been seen firsthand by Greater Wausau Area Pickleball, Inc. The local organization currently has approximately 100 members and plays throughout Marathon County.
The Marathon Park pickleball courts are open to the public during park hours; Greater Wausau Area Pickleball advertises social play at the park from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. 7 days a week and from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Most days, there are a number of people waiting to get on a court — and the numbers keep growing . . .
Because of the high demand for courts, Wausau Area Pickleball — in partnership with County Materials Corporation and American Asphalt — has generously committed to donating the labor and materials to convert the 2 tennis courts at Marathon Park to 6 additional pickleball courts this fall! The cost of the project is approximately $100,000.
The Marathon County Board of Supervisors voted to accept the donation on Tuesday, August 27, 2019. Next steps are for the Wausau/Marathon County Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department to work with Wausau Area Pickleball, Inc., to complete construction of the 6 new pickleball courts. This will make Marathon Park home to 9 dedicated pickleball courts, further contributing to Marathon County’s goal of being the healthiest county in Wisconsin!
The new pickleball courts will allow more people to enjoy the game, and Marathon Park will also play host to numerous pickleball tournaments — which will bring visitors (and dollars) into Marathon County from around the area and the state.
If you haven’t tried pickleball yet, now is the time . . .
Get your tennis (or should I say, PICKLEBALL?) shoes on,
and meet us on the courts at Marathon Park!
And don’t forget about all the other fun, active things to do in Marathon County! Check out our Spring/Summer 2019 Recreation Guide for ideas, and watch for our Fall/Winter guide to come out soon . . .
Director | Wausau / Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department
Jamie Polley is the Director of Parks, Recreation, & Forestry for the City of Wausau and Marathon County. She is a native of Marathon County and after living in Minnesota for 11 years, she made her way back home in 2018. Jamie is excited to lead this unique City/County department forward and tell the story of what the Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department is and does so that all citizens know of the opportunities available to them. Jamie has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science and a master’s degree in Sports Management. Outside of work, Jamie is an avid runner and loves to spend time with her family enjoying the outdoors. Email Jamie Polley.
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