LOCK HAVEN – There are many more activities in Hanna Park and local residents want you to participate.
Thanks to the efforts of a local group of pickleball enthusiasts – with support from the City of Lock Haven – four freshly prepared pickleball courts are ready for all to enjoy in the park along State Route 120.
Pickleball, created in 1965, combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton into one sport. Two or four players use sturdy paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, much like a Wiffle ball, with 26 to 40 round holes, over a net. The sport shares characteristics of other racquet sports: the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, as well as a net and rules somewhat similar to tennis, with several modifications.
Never played before? Don’t worry, Dr. Paul Ballat, a former Lock Haven University professor who chaired the department of physical and health education, is happy to help you learn the ways of this popular sport.
“It can be played at any age and the learning curve to get to where you need to play isn’t great.” said Ballat.
Ballat said he plans to give lessons even in the evenings on the courts, around 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. However, he is open to finding other times to meet if necessary.
For those who wish to participate, Ballat encourages them to visit www.playtimescheduler.com or download the Play Time Scheduler app. Simply enter your location and you’ll see available pickleball courts in the area and information about potential courses or games.
“We have four pickleball locations in the county,” Ron Haffley, who helped boost the sport’s popularity in the county, said. “These were the McElhattan, Mill Hall, YMCA and Hanna Park sites.”
Ballat will start offering lessons for beginners from this Wednesday, June 29.
“What we are looking for are people who want to learn to play” said Ballat. “We will implement overtime on the game time planner when needed.”
Haffley said he hopes the lessons Ballat taught will help bring more people together. So far, about 70 to 80 residents participate in weekly pickleball matches on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Haffley and Ballat would like to see that number increase, or that the courts see more activity at other times of the day.
“We try to introduce people to the game to bring them with friends and family and maybe even join us,” he said.
Ballat will provide the paddles and balls for the lessons, but those who wish can purchase their own.
Anyone who may be discouraged because of their athletic abilities shouldn’t forgo the opportunity to learn pickleball, Ballat said.
“One of the benefits of this sport is that you can play with people of varying abilities,” he said. “I always tell people that pickleball is like playing ping pong, but you’re standing on the table.”
Haffley noted that pickleball is also a good social sport.
“You meet people from the area and from other cities,” he said. Haffley noted that in last Wednesday’s games, a Fly-In visitor participated.
“She just used the planner and found out we were playing,” He continued.
The journey to get to those lessons began in the fall of 2021. Haffley approached the city council about using Hanna Park’s underutilized tennis courts for pickleball. A large group of players had played at the Y before, but they wanted another space.
With the council’s blessing, the unofficial group has raised $20,000 while the city resurfaces on the grounds. Haffley said the $20,000 was able to cover all expenses to date, including line painting, the purchase of netting and a storage shed.
“We would like to thank City Council, Mayor Joel Long, City Manager Greg Wilson, Director of Public Works Tony Stopp, Planner Abbey Roberts, Director of Community Life Kasey Campbell. said Haffley. “And a big thank you to all of our volunteers who helped prepare the grounds for the game.”