Sporting Fun

Fundraising project creates Madison Sport Court, pickleball play

Local group raises the money to make it happen

(December 2020) – Thanks to the hard work and efforts by a group of pickleball enthusiasts, Madison, Ind., now has its own outdoor courts at the newly refurbished tennis courts of the former Madison Country Club, 1253 W. Main St. A crowdfunding campaign sponsored by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), and led by the nonprofit Madison Sport Court, a project of Madison Youth Unlimited Inc., made the family-friendly outdoor space possible.
Since the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 6, the courts, which include spaces for pickleball, tennis, bocce ball and shuffleboard, have seen a steady stream of people, according to Madison Sport Court President and pickleball enthusiast Mary Kay McCubbin.

Photo provided

The recentl complete Madison Sport Court has been a hit since opening in late summer at the former Madison Country Club.

An avid tennis player herself, she became a pickleball fan after a friend convinced her to try it out. Having always played tennis outdoors, she believed pickleball fans should have the opportunity to be outside, too.
“We had indoor pickleball at the Brown Gym, but we didn’t have any outdoor courts, which we thought were necessary and would definitely add a quality of life component for people who live here,” she said. Madison Sport Court chose the former Madison Country Club tennis courts as the site of the new pickleball courts. Through generous donations and the crowdfunding campaign, the nonprofit agency was able to raise the funds to refurbish the courts and add additional options.
“We have had more than 120 donors to our project, and we hope to continue to acquire more funds,” she said. Future plans at the courts include a shelter house. The property is owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp., operators of the nearby Clifty Creek Power Plant. The corporation has arranged a deal with the city of Madison for the ball courts.
“Pickleball is a cross between ping pong, tennis and whiffle ball,” said Shirley Howard, a pickleball player who often helps beginners learn the sport. Howard is part of the pickleball group that regularly plays at the Brown Gym, 100 Broadway St., and now at the outdoor courts.

Photo provided

From left are Madison Sport Court committee members Kathy Crafton, Susan Ohlendorf, Mary Kay McCubbin and Laurie Dorsey.

“Anyone can play pickleball, and it’s perfect for older people. We’ve had people with knee replacements playing,” she said. “It’s less strain than other sports, and you work at your own level. Every size, shape or age can play, and we have teens through senior citizens in their 80s.”
Howard said membership in the Brown Gym allows pickleball players to use the on-site equipment at Madison Sport Court, but all players are welcome to bring their own equipment and play for free.
Another avid pickleball fan, Tracy Geglein, became a player when she was looking for some type of exercise to do for her health. “I heard about it through some ladies who were interested in playing. They had two sets of paddles and balls and one net,” she said. “A group of players from the Vevay, Ind., YMCA came to Madison to teach us, and we were hooked. We pitched in some money and bought a second net, and most people bought their own paddles.”
Geglein said the players set up a group text to make sure there were enough players each week, and as the word got out, the gym became busy with pickleball players. Over time, they formed a committee, raised the funds and had an outdoor court built, where they share space with tennis players during the summer.
“I play pickleball because I’m having fun, getting exercise without the drudgery, and I am meeting people,’ she said. “I am awkward, and I’m not an athlete, and I can do this.” She encourages anyone interested to come to the Brown Gym to watch or participate.
According to www.USAPickleball.org, pickleball was invented in 1965 by three men, Washington state Congressman Joel Pritchard and friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, who were trying to relieve boredom. They spent the weekend playing with a badminton net, ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. They made up the rules the next weekend, and the sport was launched. By 2013, the official USA Pickleball Association was established, and by the end of 2019, there were 40,000 members, which was an increase of 1,000 percent (yes, that’s correct).
For more information about the Madison Sport Court, visit their Facebook page.


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