Tillamook, Oregon: Pickleball Picks Up!

Tillamook Headlight-Herald, Ray Hopfer – Christmas gift-giving has come and gone. New Year’s resolutions are already being tested for their sincerity. Pickleball, however, is going strong in T-town.

What, you may ask, is pickleball? And, how can it be growing in rainy Tillamook? To answer the first question regarding the nation’s fastest growing sport, here is a good summary taken from the website PickleballRocks.com:

“It’s OVERSIZED ping pong!  Played on a badminton sized court with a tennis sized net.

“Pickleball?  It’s a paddle sport for all ages and all athletic ability levels. It has very simple rules and is easy to learn and play.  

“Just use a paddle to keep a plastic ball going back and forth over a net until somebody messes up. Simple, right?

“Teenagers love the fun of it in physical education classes in middle and high schools everywhere.

“Seniors love the social aspects and the ability to stay active and fit in towns and retirement villages in every state.

“Tennis, racquetball, squash and ping pong players love the competitive nature of it in competitions and tournaments all over the country.”

To answer the second question, it did not take long for the sport to take root here, once some snowbirding Tillamook residents introduced it to others who wanted to have fun, while trying to maintain a level of fitness and social connection in their daily routines.

Ron Groshong and Dana and Linda Shuford spearheaded the enthusiastic beginning after several local couples experienced the addictive nature of the sport while staying at favorite winter vacation spots in Arizona and California.

“I like the physical aspect of the game and the competition,” Groshong, a longtime Tillamook resident who has played for six years, said. “I went to Arizona to play golf all the time. Now all I do is play pickleball.”

“I played for the first time on a cruise ship with my sister and knew I wanted to play more,” Linda Shuford said. “Dana and I went to Arizona that spring and learned how to play with tons of snowbirds.”

As soon as the three retirees joined forces, they began to investigate bringing the popular sport to Tillamook. Through Facebook and face to face encounters, Shuford quickly found interest from friends and acquaintances like Doris Seeger, Nancy Hopfer and Donna Nash.

“A few of us started playing and we all just kept thinking of other people to ask if they wanted to start,” recalls Nash.

She and her husband Richard then made a trip to Palm Creek, Ariz. to see what competition is really like.

“It has grown from there!” Nash said.

“It’s been a great activity that’s inexpensive, can be played in a covered facility in the winter and played outside in the summer,” Seeger added.

The nearly two-year old Pickleball Club has partnered with the longstanding but smaller Tennis Club to maintain the space they rent from the Tillamook Fairgrounds. It is the same location the Tillamook High School tennis team uses for practice and competition.

Recently, the three groups pooled resources to repaint the indoor courts to accommodate both pickleball and tennis. Nearly 40 residents have become members of the Pickleball Club, and Linda Shuford has stepped up to become an Ambassador of the USA Pickleball Association, putting Tillamook on the national group’s map and website. Now enthusiasts from other parts of the nation who vacation in Tillamook can find the group and join them in some friendly competition, and a few visitors already did so last summer.

In July and August, during preparation for and running of the Tillamook County Fair, pickleball players move their activity to the outdoor tennis courts at Ninth Street park. City of Tillamook officials have become aware of the increased use at the park and have committed to repainting the tennis courts to accommodate both tennis and pickleball. The YMCA has also included pickleball lines on one of their basketball courts to make the sport accessible to Y members.

At the first of September the local enthusiasts return to the four fairground courts to resume indoor play for windless and dry conditions all the way until the end of June.

How can a person get started? Either call Marilyn Phegley at 503-801-3124 or Linda Shuford at 503-812-1472. Or, people can drop by during regular club hours Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the fairgrounds to observe or give it a try.

A single day court fee is $5, with a maximum of $25 per month. At the beginning of September members pay the annual $150 to cover the year’s expenses.

Leave a Comment