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If You Build It, They Will Come

Posted on August 4, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies.    

With my group fitness schedule, it is really hard for me to make leagues and some of my friends’ play times. I still want to play but, often, people want to play at the same time that I’m at work (because lots of pickleball players are either retired, financially independent, or just don’t work) or teaching a class. Last year, I figured that since I have some time before work, why not play at 5 AM? The parks are empty and the weather conditions (with the exception of occasional rainy days) are perfect. It doesn’t really get super hot until about 10 AM and we can wrap up around 7:30 AM, with plenty of time for me to make my 8 AM start.

Last summer, we mostly played at Seneca Park. There were some days when it was rainy and we had to move the game indoors to Jamie’s family’s gym. It worked out pretty well. It started out with just a couple of guys, plus me and another female player. Sometimes it was Karen. Other times it was Kim (Knotts). Then Chase and Logan reached out about playing and we expanded to eight players and two courts. We still did it as a mixed format – so four female players and four male players. It was mostly either four or eight last year and we played all summer long at Seneca Park, peacefully sharing the courts with the morning open play group that arrives around 7 AM. Those were the days…

Since the beginning of the year, I had been anxiously awaiting when the sun would rise earlier and I could resume 5 AM plays. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. Several others wanted to play in the mornings before work as well. As our group grew to a consistent eight or twelve players, so did the angst of others in the pickleball community.

At first they complained that I was scheduling “private play” (these were originally listed as private sessions on Playtime Scheduler) at a public park. I was accused of only letting higher level players play and that’s why it was private. Supposedly, to keep the lower skilled players out. I honestly didn’t mean to be exclusive and alienate people. I was mainly just inviting those I knew for sure were open and willing to play that early in the day.

To rectify this, I made the games public. But then, when I made the games public, even more players wanted to play so we went from averaging eight to twelve players to twelve to sixteen. In fact, we consistently had twelve players most mornings. I think this made people even more upset. Specially those who can’t get people to play with them at five in the afternoon. Yet here I was and I was getting eleven others to play with me at five in the morning!

They were jealous and pissed and singled me out. Even though the courts were empty (with the exception of one morning, the open play group only needed two courts out of six at most the entire time that we would play), they would not allow us to play our ladder games past 7 AM. They wanted to hoard all six courts for open play even though they had eight to fourteen players at best. So on a good day, they would need only three of the six courts tops. However, because the posted sign said paddle rotation between the hours of 7 AM and 10 AM and 5 PM and 8 PM, they were strictly adhering to those rules even when they didn’t make any sense.

I vented to my friend Chris Heck (and a few others) about the ridiculousness of it all and how I was moving my ladder group to Edgemoor Park where we wouldn’t run into complaints or conflict and Chris went on a rampage. He urged me to stand my ground and not move my game and he started emailing people. He even played with us one morning so they could look the potential complainers (whoever they might be in the face). I think this made some people even more mad because then they emailed the USA Pickleball District Ambassador who lives in Topeka. I suppose so that she could scold me for using common sense and actually utilizing our parks to their full potential. She doesn’t even live here!

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Despite all of Chris’ efforts and his support, I eventually moved my ladder group to Edgemoor Park because I was so tired of having to deal with all the conflict. And it’s like one or two people but they just cause so much trouble for everyone. For my own sanity and peace of mind, I caved. Yes, I let them bully me out of Seneca Park. Once we moved to Edge it was actually a lot nicer. We didn’t have to worry about the if people were going to complain about us and were so much more relaxed. When I was at Seneca, I really couldn’t concentrate on playing. I was always concerned with whether the complainers were present in the group and how many people there were and if we needed to wrap up early. I didn’t have to worry about any of those things at Edge. But moving the game to Edge meant I lost some really good players. Seneca was ideal because it was centrally located. A lot of our players who live out West did not want to drive all the way to Edgemoor Park, which is in East Wichita territory. So, moving the ladder group, did not have unintended negative consequences.

There were positive consequences also, however. Moving the group allowed us to grow from an average of twelve players to an average of sixteen and there was one day that we peaked at 26 sign ups! We could potentially fill all six courts. Who knew that there would be that many people wanting to play that early in the morning? It is beyond my wildest imagination. I thought I was lucky to have eight regular players last year.

Now that we are in August, I am done organizing the morning ladder group. The sun doesn’t come up until 6:30 AM these days and it’s too late to start ladder play if we expect to be wrapped up by 7:30 AM. So now, I am starting the countdown to next year. I’m thinking of restarting the ladder immediately after Memorial Day to get two whole months of play. I won’t even bother with Seneca this time, though. We will just make Edgemoor our home base. Until next summer, GNG.

Related Stories

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  • Making New Friends on July 23, 2021
  • Linwood Recreation Center on March 26, 2021
  • Atypical Pickleball Weekend on June 20, 2020
  • The Pickleball Librarian Visits Wichita on March 9, 2021

  • Replies to "If You Build It, They Will Come"

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    Ron Ponder Sighting  on August 9, 2021

    […] ref Ron Ponder was in town earlier this week. I hadn’t played in the morning at Seneca Park since the big fiasco with the “complainers” several weeks ago but I had to make an exception because this […]

    « She Came, She Played, She Conquered  « this post »  Ron Ponder Sighting »