There’s a New Game in Town

There’s a New Game in Town
Posted on 03/29/2016

By Councilmember Mike Peterson

Residents of Cottonwood Heights have always prided themselves in being healthy and active.   Our community offers wonderful opportunities from running to swimming and everything in between. But now, there’s a new game in town. It’s sweeping the country and has drawn thousands of people, young and old, off the couch and has given them the opportunity to become more active in a social, family, or competitive environment. It has jump-started the lives of thousands of the non-active, and extended the active lifestyles of thousands more who want to stay active. There are now over 2,000 locations to play across the country with thousands of new players experiencing the game for the first time every year. It’s one of the fastest growing sports across the country and rapidly growing in popularity right here in Utah and specifically in Cottonwood Heights.  What is this new obsession? You guessed it: PICKLEBALL!  The game is played on what looks like a small tennis court outdoors, or in nearly every recreation center gymnasium in the Salt Lake Valley.

Pickleball is a game created here in the United States in the mid 1960s in the state of Washington by a couple of fathers who returned home from a golf outing to find their families sitting around bored with nothing to do. Their residence had some open space previously used for badminton, an old badminton net, and a few ping pong paddles. They found an old perforated ball that seemed to bounce well on asphalt, lowered the badminton net to a reasonable height, and began hitting the ball back and forth.  Over the next few weeks and after introducing their discovery to a few friends, they created rules of play. Through it all, they focused on creating an activity that the whole family could enjoy.

Today from Logan to St. George you can find thousands of Utah residents playing the game every day. Many cities in our state have now built, or plan to build, formal courts in their neighborhood or community parks. Others have simply used existing tennis courts for play by adding new game lines to the existing tennis court, allowing play for both sports. Recreation centers throughout the state are adding new game lines to their gymnasiums, using portable nets, and allowing indoor play year-round and especially during the cold winter months. Some residents have purchased portable nets and simply set up their own court for a family gathering in their driveway or school playground by putting down game lines with chalk. Butlerville Days will be hosting our community’s first pickleball tournament this coming July.  It will be called the Mayor’s Cup and will be a mixed doubles event only. 

Cottonwood Heights, Salt Lake County, the city of Cottonwood Heights, and Cottonwood Heights Recreation all collaborated to build three new public outdoor pickleball courts directly behind the recreation center. These courts are now available for public use, or can be reserved for personal use through the center. The recreation center also has three indoor courts set up in the gymnasium and are available for indoor play Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  All skill levels are welcome, and there’s even talk about developing instructional classes for those who are a bit hesitant to jump right in. Playing for just the last few months, I’ve been able to stay active, meet new friends, and have a low impact activity I can enjoy when traveling to new destinations. Our community already offers so many opportunities to stay healthy and active. Whether you prefer the slopes, the road, or the gym, make no mistake about it: there’s a new game in town and it’s sure to please.