Eaton Rapids wants its own pickleball courts and this is how they’re doing it

What’s happening: Pickleball is what’s happening. It’s being called the fastest growing sport in the United States, but for residents of Eaton Rapids, it’s still a good 12- to 15-mile drive to get to the nearest pickleball court. That’s why some local residents have formed the We Are PickleballERs Club in an effort to bring pickleball to Eaton Rapids. They’ve partnered with Eaton Rapids Athletic Booster Club on a fundraising campaign to help make it happen.

What it is: Pickleball exists somewhere between tennis and ping pong, with players using rackets to volley a plastic wiffle ball over a net that divides a playing surface the size of a badminton court. The sport was gaining in popularity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems that the outdoor activity has become increasingly more popular during and since the height of shutdowns and social distancing. Vacant pickleball courts can be difficult to find.

What’s planned: The We Are PickleballERs and Eaton Rapids Athletic Booster clubs are hoping to raise $60,000 to build four pickleball courts at the Eaton Rapids Athletic Complex. The funds raised will help install the courts, nets, and a six-foot perimeter fence around the area.

How they’ll do it: We Are PickleballERs, the Eaton Rapids Athletic Booster Club, and Eaton Rapids Community Schools have been accepted into the Public Spaces Community Places program, the placemaking initiative from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Should they successfully raise $30,000 through a crowdfunding campaign on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform, the MEDC will contribute a $30,000 matching grant to the project.

The crowdfunding campaign has until Thursday, Sept. 8, to meet its goal. At the time of publication, the campaign is nearly there, with less than $4,000 to go. View it HERE.

What they’re saying: “The matching grant through the Public Spaces Community Places will make it possible to double the number of pickleball courts that the We Are PickleballERs Club plans to build at the Eaton Rapids Athletic Complex,” says We Are PickleballERs Club President Joe Mitchell. “Partnering with the Eaton Rapids Athletic Boosters Club and community support will also allow us to achieve this dream for the citizens of Eaton Rapids.”

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