Guest column: Pickleball still going strong in Albert Lea

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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Guest column by Brenda Morris

Since its inception here in 2013, the Albert Lea Area Pickleball Club (ALAPC) has swelled to over 100 paid members, including players from Iowa, Wells, New Richland and Austin and other surrounding communities, to name a few. Our age group ranges from teens to late eighties. The game of pickleball itself is fast, challenging at times, but also very easy to learn. Caution! It is also quickly addictive!

Brenda Morris

I joined this group in 2019 right about when the COVID crisis started. I never thought that I would enjoy a game and the people I play with so much! They are a wonderful group. There are many people that I knew before joining and others who I would never have met if I hadn’t. They are so welcoming, no matter what your skill level is. You can play anytime most days. Our group typically plays during the summer months Monday through Friday from 7:30-10 a.m. at the Albert Lea Pickleball courts located on Frank Hall Drive. There are also groups that play most evenings after work and pickleball classes are available through Community Education.

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Our Annual Summer Sizzler Pickleball Tournament is set for Aug. 9-11, with a social on Friday evening. Last year our tournament involved 114 players from six different states and all skill levels. We hope to add to that success this year.

Well if are you wondering, what else is there to know about the ALAPC? We are a nonprofit organization and partner with the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber Foundation, which means we receive our money through membership dues, $20 yearly and through donations. Now for the other reason for this article — the ALAPC is in desperate need of additional/and upgraded pickleball courts. Currently we use six permanent courts and four portable nets/courts when needed for large numbers of players. Even with those extra portable courts we can only accommodate 40 players at one time, which is pretty much daily in the summer months, especially in the mornings and on weekends. The club in partnership with the city of Albert Lea is looking at building an additional four to six new courts in 2025. The city has projected that cost to be @$100,000-$300,000 at this time. This is a considerable amount of money for a club to raise. In the past, the club has partially funded our courts. We will continue to do this with additional courts too, but without public donations, this will take some time.

I believe it is important to note that all courts are open to the public in Albert Lea and the surrounding communities, which benefits us all. We are asking the public, businesses and citizens to consider contributions toward the new courts and to realize how this benefits all of us here. Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports/activities in the nation and with Albert Lea being a designated Blue Zones Community, it truly fits with our club mission to promote the development of growth of self — socially, mentally and physically, and in the development of pickleball in the Albert Lea area.

Keep pickleball growing here in Albert Lea. Donations can be made to the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber Foundation marked toward ask our ALAPC or our president, Chris Utz, about contributing to our much needed additional pickleball courts. Also, we as a group would love to have you join our Albert Lea Area Pickleball Club or just come out to the courts to play sometime with friends or your family. I guarantee you will love it!

Brenda Morris is an area resident who enjoys playing pickleball.