Youth physical education organizers in Southern Utah received money from a national organization to help promote a popular recreational sports program.
The game pickleball was created in 1965 and is played in a doubles badminton-sized court where players paddle a polymer pickleball across the center net.
“Sounds like a bunch of popcorn going off out there, a little higher pitch popcorn sounds,” said Wayne Bullock, St. George Head Tennis/Pickleball Pro.
The competitive game is one of America's fastest growing leisure sports, especially among senior athletes.
“I started out on four courts. We are doing tournaments in the dirt, no outlets, and the bathrooms are 200 yards away from us and we are trying to build this program,” he said. “And a year and a half later we are in this twelve court facility and then a couple of years later, we have this beautiful 24 court facility.”
In April the USA Pickleball Association held the West Regional Tournament at the Little Valley Pickleball Facility in St. George. Now, the association is donating money to the Southern Utah program to encourage youth to carry on the tradition.
“Which is fantastic because they recognize that the youth are the ones that are going to continue to grow and build this sport,” said Bullock.
Bullock says the $2,500 donation will be used to purchase equipment and offer scholarships for young players to receive pickleball lesson.
In October the city will hold the Fall Brawl pickleball tournament.
Other cities in Utah are installing pickleball courts. Brigham City will dedicate a news facility next week.