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Kanab Pickleballers and the push for court space

The Pickleball scene has been growing steadily in Kanab as of late. Any visitors to a city council meeting during discus­sions of the new recre­ation center will likely have met a pickleball player there to advocate for dedicated courts for the sport to meet the growing demand - in fact, according to local pickle­baller Dave Mortenson, “it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the country - Hurricane just put in six new courts, and multiple courts are going up in St. George.”

A traditional ‘good game’ after a match. Photo courtesy of Dave Mortenson.

Mortenson is part of the Pickleball club that meets multiple times a week for friendly pickup games, a club that is becoming in­creasingly concerned that the facilities they’ve been using won’t be able to keep up with their numbers - or worse, that those facilities will soon become unavail­able and they won’t have anywhere to play at all. According to Lynn Dolan, the group’s organizer and one of its founding mem­bers, “we’re only here till they decide to use the gym for something else. We’re grateful for these indoor facilities, especially in the really cold and really hot months, but we know that youth programs like basketball and tennis are going to take priority.” Additionally, the gym they’re currently using, in the old recreational facility attached to the Kanab Center, is set to be taken over by construc­tion - which means soon the pickleballers won’t have a home. “We came in and measured and lined this court ourselves. The city provided us a net - that we’ve since used till it gave out, and we bought three more nets ourselves.”

A pickleball court is compatible with a tennis or a basketball court, fit­ting within the width of those courts and compat­ible with the same sur­faces. According to Dolan and Mortenson, the group has been negotiating with the city for some time to get alternatives to their soon-to-be-closed gym; Dolan says, “we’re try­ing to get the city to line the tennis courts so we’ll have somewhere to play once we’re out of this gym … there were pickleball courts in the works for the Ranchos park and city park, but small-town administration can only move so fast. We’re hoping to get courts in the new fitness center - maybe get some dedicated time along with basketball and tennis and the like.”

These folks clearly have a great passion for their sport, inviting anyone to come and play. “It’s a good athletic and social sport,” says Mortenson, “but you don’t have to be a star athlete to play. People get different things out of it - it’s a physical activity of course, but it’s social too. Since I’ve started, I’ve lost weight, I feel better, and that’s not just the exer­cise, it’s social too. We’re all just coming together and having fun.”

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Dolan concurred, “It’s excellent mental and physical exercise. It was designed as a game for seniors, so it’s playable for everyone and it’s since become a game for every­body … We have about fifty people in our mailing list, and great regular attendance. These games will always be friendly, because Kanab is friendly … and we want to see them grow.”

For the time being, the best way to ‘sign up’ for the de facto club is to sim­ply show up. The group meets every morning possible at the old gym, and interested players can speak with Lynn Dolan to get signed up for that mailing list - once there, players can keep up with coordination for future locations as they become available and the previous courts close out or are dedicated to other activities.

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