Limestone County is seeing an increased interest in pickleball, a sport that is growing every day in North Alabama.
This includes Limestone resident Chase Spitzer, who is leading the charge for pickleball in Athens and Limestone County.
Spitzer has started a recreational club pickleball team, is offering free lessons and is also establishing a working relationship with relevant parties from the city and county.
For Spitzer, he sees the potential pickleball has in Limestone County and wants to provide opportunities for all to play the sport who wish to do so.
“I would call it my community service,” he said. “It is enormous across the country.”
Pickleball is a tennis-like sport with two or four players. It is traditionally played on a badminton-sized court with special paddles made of wood or aerospace materials.
Points can only be scored by the side that serves. Players must let the ball bounce on both sides of the court before volleys are allowed. Additionally, there is a seven-foot no-volley zone to prevent spiking. According to pickleball.com, the game tries to be more inclusive than tennis by getting both players on the team involved in the action, when it is a game of four.
However, in Limestone County, the interest in the sport has outgrown the facilities to play the sport, according to Spitzer. But, Spitzer says that he expects more space to soon be available in Athens for all of Limestone County.
Many players in the Limestone area travel to Madison, Huntsville and Decatur due to the high demand of pickleball in the area.
There is currently one court used at the Athens Recreational Center for the sport, but that court often has as many as a dozen people signed up waiting to play pickleball at any given time, according to Spitzer.
He and others have also started tracking data to use as evidence of the growth of the sport at the recreation center. This could be used to ask for further accommodations for the sport from the city or from the recreation center.
In order to fix the problem of high demand but low access, Spitzer says that he hopes the recreation center will allow prospecting pickleball players to use the basketball courts for temporary pickleball courts.
One basketball court can be used for three pickleball courts.
While he wants pickleball to grow even more than it has, Spitzer also says the main purpose of the club team is not competition. They recently became a member as a recreational club team within the U.S.A. Pickleball Association.
“It is more about the health and wellness of the players,” he said.
Another way he promotes the sport is through free lessons. He currently offers these lessons once a week for up to three people at a time, but is hoping to increase these numbers as more facilities and accommodations become available.
As it currently stands, due to the high demand to use the pickleball court, he cannot squeeze in more lessons than he already has.
Once everyone is through the holiday season, with Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, Spitzer says he will begin his lessons again, still for free. However, Spitzer hopes he can go to bi-weekly lessons if he is able to find time on the court, or if more courts become available.
Additionally, Spitzer has not ruled out the opportunity to play in tournaments.
According to him, Alabama is always filled with tournaments across the state.