BALDWIN — Pickleball has taken over as the fastest growing sport in the nation. To help accommodate that growth, central St. Croix County now has four dedicated pickleball courts at Mill Pond Park in Baldwin. The courts, which are open for public play, are the result of collaboration between the Village of Baldwin and the Baldwin Area Pickleball Association (BAPA).
According to BAPA President Tom DeLong of Hammond, the new pickleball courts “promote and facilitate pickleball as a physical and mental health, social and community activity for people of all ages, while keeping it fun, spirited and enjoyable.”
In November 2022, the Village Board gave permission to convert one of two sports courts in Mill Pond Park to four pickleball courts. These four courts, adjacent to a tennis court add to the park amenities and opportunities for families and individuals to have a multitude of activities at Mill Pond Park. (Tennis players also have access to eight courts at the high school, when not in use for school functions.) Over the winter, BAPA raised the funds for the court conversion and purchase related equipment.
“The donations by businesses and individuals are very much appreciated, and I personally thank each and every one,” BAPA Treasurer Dale Crowley said. “The courts are a real asset to the community to be enjoyed by everyone.”
One of the key factors contributing to pickleball‘s popularity is its inclusivity. Unlike many other sports, pickleball can be played by people of all ages and abilities. The smaller court size and pace make it easier for beginners to learn and enjoy the game. This inclusivity attracts a wide range of participants, from young children to senior citizens, fostering a sense of camaraderie and unity among players.
“Anyone of any ability can play pickleball,” said BAPA Vice President Scott DeGross. “It is a very inclusive and social sport. I have dropped in at over 20 places and been welcomed at every one and met hundreds of new people.”
Pickleball has become a catalyst for community building. Many neighborhoods and retirement communities have embraced the sport, creating dedicated pickleball courts and organizing regular tournaments and social events. These gatherings not only promote physical activity but also provide opportunities for social interaction and formation of new friendships. The sense of community that pickleball fosters has been instrumental in combating social isolation and improving mental well-being.
“Staying active and having fun are certainly benefits, but what I have enjoyed the most are the friendships that I have gained,” BAPA Secretary Nylene Sparks said. “Having more courts means more people coming together and more friendships to be made.”
Organized pickleball began in Baldwin in June 2012, when DeLong returned from wintering in Arizona, where he learned the sport, and founded Baldwin Area Pickleball. Since then, pickleball has seen tremendous growth in the area. The courts at Baldwin are intended to primarily serve central St. Croix County – Baldwin, Woodville, Hammond, Roberts, Glenwood City and the encompassing rural areas.
People are encouraged to join BAPA. Membership is reasonable and the funds are used to support the courts, equipment, balls and other amenities as needed. Membership gives players access to the storage bin, balls and court clearing equipment. Members also receive emails and can schedule playing times via use of SignUpGenius (SUG).
For additional information visit BAPA at https://baldwinpickleball.wixsite.com/baldwinpickleball-or