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Civics center project could give Pahrump what it craves — a pickleball facility

Updated August 23, 2023 - 3:56 am

In an echo of what occurred earlier this year regarding splash pads, community members came out in force during the last Nye County Commission meeting to voice their yearning for a proper pickleball facility.

Although there is a pseudo-pickleball court already in use at the tennis courts at Petrack Park, this area was not designed for pickleball and is simply too small to support the ever-growing group of residents wishing to take part.

The good news is, courts specifically for pickleball are already on the county’s radar and will be brought to the community as part of the Nye County Civic Center buildout.

There were no less than half a dozen residents who spoke on the subject at the Aug. 15 meeting, with Lynn Thomas kicking off the public comment.

“I am here to implore you to support our community with the financial support and development of a pickleball facility,” Thomas stated. “But first of all, for those who don’t know what pickleball is, let me tell you. Pickleball is a sport that combines the elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton into one family-friendly game. Instead of tennis rackets, you use paddles and a whiffle ball. It’s super fun!”

Thomas said the game is quite easy to learn and can be played by all ages, from the very young to the very old. It’s also the fastest growing sport in the country at the moment.

“Participation has grown 160% over the last three years, bringing it to a whopping 36.5 million players in the U.S.,” Thomas cited. “It has the third-highest participation rate of any sport, way ahead of tennis, by the way. The only two that beat it out, by small margins, are hiking and biking.”

Heather Scott, an educator and another area resident, said she too wants to see an expansion of the sport.

“I believe it is very important to have activities for family and community,” Scott remarked. “Communities that participate in sports and recreation develop strong social bonds, they are safer places and the people who live in them are generally healthier and happier than places where physical activities are not a priority… I love our community, I love our small town, but I do believe we need some more activities, other than the current 30-plus bars that we have.”

Scott also listed a plethora of benefits that come from playing the sport, including improvement of balance, hand-eye coordination and flexibility; improvement of heart health; prevention of osteoporosis; a boost for mood and mental health; opening options for social connections; and lowering health care costs via improved overall health.

“And you can play it as a family, you can play it as an individual, it’s a very fun activity and they are actually looking at putting it in the Olympics,” Scott said. “So, living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent chronic diseases and long-term illnesses and I believe that it would be imperative for our community, to bring us together and have positive activities for our children and adults in our community.”

Resident Edward Mauch then took the microphone, telling commissioners that in the last year, one in five Americans have played at least one game of pickleball. Moreover, the sport is catching media attention with Fox Sports televising the nationals, which took place in Naples, Florida.

“There were over 69 courts they were using, 3,000 players from ages eight to 87 and the cash prize was $100,000,” Mauch stated. “The amount of money that was made due to sponsorships and at the various venues and local community, we’re talking about restaurant, hotels, over $9 million was raised in one week. That’s pretty extensive.”

Mauch emphasized that he is not expecting Pahrump to reach such a scale immediately but there is the potential for the community to become a destination for pickleball competitions if the county embraces the idea.

Amy Landers, representing a group of about 20 women who met at the current courts used for pickleball, stressed the sport’s ability to bring together people from all walks of life.

“We are a diverse group of different faiths, different religions, different careers, different backgrounds — but we found common ground in pickleball and we have become the best of friends,” Landers explained.

She went on to state that the current pickleball courts, created from one of the existing tennis courts, did not have the necessary equipment for play but she and her group are so enthusiastic about the sport that they bought the needed items themselves.

“Our group, which has tripled in size since January, has purchased our own pickleball nets, our own lines, our own balls and paddles, spending thousands of dollars, because this is how exciting this game is for us,” Landers said.

Tim Bohannon, secretary with the Nye County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and a nationally ranked tennis player himself, threw his support behind the concept too, telling commissioners that the sport is undoubtedly picking up steam.

“It’s getting a lot of play, if you will, from professional tennis players who have gotten involved with it and promoted it. It seems like a great social activity and it’s something we should be considering,” Bohannon encouraged.

After public comment came to a close, commissioners Donna Cox and Debra Strickland both touched on the subject as well.

“Pickleball, oh my God, that is all I hear about from my sister-in-law,” Cox proclaimed. “She lives in Utah and she’s not coming to live down here unless she can find a pickleball court really close… I told her we have something at the park but she said that’s not good enough for what she needs. And she is 75 years old, by the way, and it is keeping her in shape.”

Strickland then assured the community that its desire for pickleball is something the county is well aware of and in fact, is already striving to fulfill.

“The civic center that we are going to build has racquetball, pickleball, indoor courts already in the works, so that is going to happen. Plus a basketball court that could facilitate with… full tournaments indoors,” Strickland said.

She noted that the county is almost ready to go out to bid for the construction of that facility. “So we get there and I think you’re going to see a little different face on Pahrump,” Strickland said.

The Nye County Civic Center is part of the development of the Pahrump Fairgrounds, a project long in the making but one that has seen increased momentum in the last few years. The center is slated to support a wide range of uses, from sports and community activities to meetings, events and more.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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