Columbus Pickleball players hope for new space in city’s oldest park

COLUMBUS,Ind. - At just over 100 years, Donner Park is the oldest park in Columbus, but it's a new sound that's getting all of the attention.

Every week, in folding chairs and good spirits, dozens of people line up for their chance to play Pickleball.

The game has been around for decades, but the Sports and Fitness Industry Association now bills it at the nation's fastest-growing sport.

It certainly is in Columbus.

"You’re able to let out your frustration, you’re able to work on your skill, and it’s just a blast. There is nothing about it that is not fun," says Mary Moore.

Mary and her husband Norris brought Pickleball to Columbus about 3 years ago.

"We had about six people to start with," she recalls. "We put some flyers out, we had some lessons, and little by little they started talking and it just grew."

They helped write the by laws for a new club and worked with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department to create two courts.

Now, those courts are consistently full.

"We have 137 members just in our club and we have eight spaces for people to play at a time," says club president Cindy Massey. "We’re in dire need of more space to play."

The club began fundraising for expansion, a campaign called "Moore Courts."

The name is in honor of the couple that introduced them to the sport, and to the man who helped them fall in love with it. Norris Moore recently passed away.

"Norris was just tickled every time somebody came out to play," says club member Charlie Day. "He loved to teach people the game he loved to welcome them to the game."

"I just know that he is here in spirit because it was his love as well as my love. It’s our greatest love, Pickleball," says Mary. "I know he’s here. I know he’s helping others play as well. You can’t ask for more."

Day says he knows Norris is looking over them as well, whether it's on or off the court.

When it comes to Pickleball in Columbus, players say it's more than just a fun game--it's a community. Whether they're going to social events, volunteering, or helping a fellow member, they often do it together. They say it's a family. Like all growing families, they say it's time to expand the home.

The Parks and Recreation Department is matching their contributions and they hope to one day have 12 courts.

They'll host their second tournament from Oct. 11 through Oct. 13. They expect between 150 and 200 players to take part.

 

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