Some new slabs between Santa Rosa Creek and the parking lot for the Old Cambria Grammar School soon will be the home courts for the Cambria Pickleball Club, according to club representative Taylor Hilden.
A ribbon-cutting and free public pickleball demonstration is tentatively set for 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 6.
Concrete for the courts (23 truckloads of it!) was poured on July 23. That capped a dream that began three years ago when the club was launched by Hilden and husband Jos Hilden (dubbed Cambria’s pickleball ambassador).
Membership grew quickly, but the club was sharing Coast Union High School tennis court space with school players and the Cambria Tennis Club.
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A plan was proposed that some underutilized grounds at the Old Grammar School be converted pickleball home courts. The plan ultimately was approved by school district and county officials.
To pay for the project, club members formed a nonprofit corporation (Cambria Pickleball by the Sea Inc.), applied for and received IRS nonprofit status, and began seeking donations. The club raised nearly $200,000 in less than a year, thanks to two major fundraisers, plus gifts from club members and other private donors.
Del Clegg, president of the Coast Unified School District, said Tuesday, Aug. 11, “I think it’s just awesome!” He called the construction success “a testament to Rich Davega and other members of the pickleball club” because of their determination to quickly turn their goal into reality.
The courts “will be another asset for the community, one that encompasses all ages,” Clegg said. “Our community will have fun there. Those players have a great time.”
He likened the start-to-finish negotiations and construction process to the cooperative relationship involving the district, the high school and the Cambria Tennis Club.
Clegg noted that tennis club members “have been very helpful and supportive” to the pickleball club, sharing the public tennis-court time and assisting in other ways.
Clegg said the school district has “major, prime-time stuff going on, with the theater, art shows, pickleball courts and more. It’s amazing; all these people involved in these programs, they’ll put their shoulder to it to put these programs together and make them work.”
He said he and some other community members had fun watching as the pickleball courts went in.
“When they were grading, it was amazing how many big-boy toys they had in the area!”
The pickleball club’s board of directors includes Davega, Mary Middleton, Tori Thompson, Hilden and Bill Timothy.
Pickleball combines the basic elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis (ping-pong), using a ball similar to a Wiffle ball and a paddle about 25 percent bigger than a table-tennis paddle. It is preferred by some over tennis because it places less physical stress on the knees, hips and shoulders.
Presently the group plays at Coast Union on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings (8 to 11), and Friday morning 8 to 10 is for “newbies and practice.”
More information on Cambria Pickleball by the Sea is available: https://cambriapickleballclub.shutterfly.com.