No longer in a pickle
The clacking sound of wiffle balls hitting rackets is no longer a nuisance.
Woodbury pickleball players, a group comprised of about 140 members, are back out on the courts this summer. But unlike last year, they have a more structured club with consistent hours of play at three city parks.
Some of the neighbors at Shawnee Park had expressed concerns about early morning noise caused by pickleball last summer, which prompted city parks and recreation staff to step in and create a better organized sport.
An agreement was reached so players have the courts at Shawnee, Ojibway and Pioneer parks at specific times of the day, starting no earlier than 9 a.m. so not to disturb the neighbors.
"Much more organization, much more participation," president of the Woodbury club Tony Carroll said. "Woodbury parks and recreation has been really nice to us."
Pickleball is a sport played mostly by seniors, although local club members say more and more people in their 30s and 40s are joining.
The game falls somewhere between tennis and ping pong, played on a court smaller than a tennis court where the net hangs a couple of inches lower and the racquets resemble oversized ping pong paddles.
Players say the earlier the better since many are early risers and like to avoid the heat in the summer months. Last year, some residents complained about the parks being constantly occupied by pickleball players.
Although they like to start at 8 a.m., players said they were OK with the new times, which are mostly scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays.
The new times are not stopping the group from growing. On a recent mild, sunny morning, Shawnee Park had about 40 players waiting to play. The six courts accommodate up to 24 at a time, while the rest wait patiently on the benches for a group of four to finish a game.
"In the spring we really look forward to winter people coming back," Sue Ek said of the snowbirds. "It's like new friends all over again."
Some join the group for social aspects, while others get competitive.
And since tennis can get a little tough on some people, they turn to pickleball.
Now that the senior population continues to increase in Woodbury, the city also decided to add courts and scheduled play at Ojibway Park.
Striping will take place as soon as the weather allows, city staff said, and portable nets will be installed.
The schedule the city and club has agreed upon is as follows:
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Shawnee Park and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at Ojibway Park.
Pioneer Park does not currently have scheduled play time; however, the courts are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
"There is nobody disturbing anybody at 9 o'clock in the morning," Carroll said. "That seems to be an acceptable compromise that seems to be working."