Pickleball - The Early Years at Lake of the Woods
In 2017 we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of our fantastic community:
Lake of the Woods (LOW). Two years prior to that, we celebrated the 50th
Anniversary of the founding of the game with the funny name: Pickleball.
Yes, the fastest growing sport in the country is that old!
Here at LOW, pickleball got its start in 2006. Shirley and John Cavanaugh of
Lakeview Parkway contacted the LOW Activity Director, at that time, to
discuss the procedures to get pickleball started. Shirley and John learned
the game in Ft. Myers, FL, where they were spending their winters at that
time. They were told that they had to get permission from the then General
Manager (GM). Even though they received much resistance at the beginning,
Shirley and John persisted and bought the needed equipment themselves after
they were allowed to use the new Community Center (CC). They used the Lake
Currents to advertise a Beginners class and how the game was played. Channel
18 played a USA Pickleball Association (USAPA – the sanctioning body of
pickleball) video that described the game.
The Beginners class started with 6-8 new players and they were taught
the fundamentals of the game. Pickleball was played at the CC on Mondays and
Wednesdays from 1:30 – 4:00 PM. Over the years, management changed at LOW
with Phil Rodenberg becoming GM and Sylvia Selinsky the LOW Community
Operations Manager. Phil and Sylvia were very helpful in the growth of
pickleball at LOW by allowing for more playing days and extended times to
play at the CC.
In the early days of pickleball at LOW, John says that, “There were times
when we did not have enough to play, but we’ve had tremendous growth. We
didn’t have enough to divide into levels, so everyone just played together
and had fun. We have always stressed the fun aspect of the game.”
In 2008, Shirley and John looked for outdoor space to create two
courts. There was an unused concrete slab next to the volleyball court near
the Fitness Center. Outdoor play was now in operation. During the winter of
2010 while Shirley and John were snowbirding in Florida and after the
skateboard park was no longer being utilized near the compactor site, Bob
Spencer and Jeff Vandling had arranged to get that area converted into two