A Community Success Story


In June of 2011, eight of us got together to help pickleball grow in Bend, Oregon and Central Oregon. We all loved the sport and wanted to bring as many others to it as we could to share the fun and increase our own opportunities to play (success story).  In that first meeting we could only identify 16 active pickleball players in the area (and that counted the eight of us) and one public pickleball court, a shared-use-with-basketball arrangement in a local park co-located with the Senior Center.

Four years later, our pickleball-playing population has grown from 16 to 1,000 players, there are 46 permanent and temporary pickleball courts in the area (not counting some number of private courts in the backyards of area residents), there’s an indoor venue that’s active in the winter time and a brand new pickleball complex of eight outdoor permanent pickleball courts jointly funded by our pickleball club and the Bend Park and Recreation District to serve all Bend residents and visitors, with eight more nearing final construction to bring the club’s home complex to 16 courts.

And the Bend Pickleball Club itself has quickly become a leader in doing things that are pretty efficient and, frankly, very cool. For instance, through the guidance of our Director of Communications (and VP) Kirk Foster, we now have a virtually completely digital on-line presence, where people can sign up for Round Robins, Training, Special Events, communicate with other members in a  private forum, and much more. Our Court Utilization Committee and Training functions are continually re-balancing the offerings of organized play and various training and clinic venues for our club members utilizing on-line surveys and other polling mechanisms to determine their real needs and desires. We are in our third year of corporate sponsorship for our larger tournament in August, this year the USAPA Pacific Northwest Regional, (the Big Country RV Pickleball tournament), and we are the hosts for the Oregon Senior Games pickleball tournament in June.

True, our group had had previous experience with helping the sport grow in other clubs. Prior to our moving to Bend, A. J. was President of one of the largest pickleball clubs in the U.S., the Palm Creek Pickleball Club in Arizona.  With 700 members and 24 courts it’s now one of the largest single-location pickleball facilities in the U.S. Long before pickleball, he co-owned and operated a small chain of racquetball clubs and experienced for the first time a sport growing explosively.

Irene was on the Board of Directors of the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association, the national organization responsible for guiding, developing and rules-making for the sport) and wrote their e-newsletter for two years. She’s run dozens of beginner and skills training sessions, has built and conducted referee training, and along with AJ, has been involved in virtually every aspect of pickleball.

Active involvement with all things pickleball describes the other six members of our group as well. Roger, Karen, Les, Lori, Lee and Verna are all very experienced volunteers and had already worked to better many other organizations. Many of them held major roles within the Palm Creek Pickleball Club, host of the 2015 USAPA Nationals, successfully doing everything from holding board positions to conducting beginner and ongoing training to  managing court operations to assisting with skill-level ratings to club photography to tournament directing to organizing and coordinating referees to running raffles, fund-raisers and so on and on. In addition they were and are big fun to work with!

Our intent in writing this guide is to help you formulate an action plan to grow your own pickleball community. It’s something we know you can do. Pickleball is white-hot and a perfect sport for our times. If you plant and nurture it in your community, it will grow! We are telling this story to help you to grow your own pickleball community, and if you think it might, go here (this will be available soon!) to review a few assumptions we make about who can benefit from our guide and then get into reading the whole thing if you wish.

Other planning documents we used will be added to this section as we go forward.


  • Bob Holycross
    November 1, 2016

    Great information and am very interested in learning more about funding schemes for new outdoor PB courts. However, I’m frustrated in that it appears all of your links to supporting documents pops up an ERROR 404 message.

    Thank you.

    Bob Holycross

    • Us
      December 6, 2016

      Our apologies; please have patience with us. DropBox dumped over 3,000 of our shared files by accident and we are trying hard to restore them without having to go to each of the 3,000 files and recreate the links. I would suggest you check back in a week or so and we may have it fixed….can’t say for certain, but I think we’re on the right track.

      More soon, hopefully….

    • Melissa Kirkpatrick
      April 29, 2019

      Great information we are looking to fix our outside tennis courts at the Wasco school events center. And we could use any help and information available. We have two indoor courts and would like to expand to the old outside courts tennis and basketball.

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