| | | | | |

Pickleball picks up steam in Gulf County

Linda BeHage remembers when pickleball first began picking up steam in Gulf County.

She began playing the game with a small group of locals at the courts in Mexico Beach shortly afterwards. Now, Gulf County boasts multiple pickleball facilities, including the Frank Pate Park courts where BeHage was taking a breather between games.

“I’ve been playing for a long time — probably seven or eight years, I joined when it had just started out here…” said BeHage. “We used to all go into Mexico Beach to play, and then we got a group out here, and then, eventually, a group at Salinas. It’s just huge. This time of year, it’s difficult to get court time.”

Pickleball is the fastest growing athletic activity in the country, according to USA Pickleball, who cited that participation in the sport grew by 21.3 percent between 2019 and 2020.

This is certainly the case in Gulf County, where local organizations, such as the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center, have begun to host annual tournaments as fundraisers and competitive leagues have been formed.

In a survey of locals ahead of the redesign of Salinas Park on Cape San Blas, additional Pickleball courts were among the most requested additions.

Even with longer wait times for facilities, BeHage said the newcomers on the court have been a welcome addition.

“As far as the game logistics, you’re active, but you’re not running like you are in tennis, and you’re using agility, so you have to keep a lot of your skills going,” she said. “We used to think of it as an older person’s game, but it has been adopted by very young people, and the game does not look recognizable. It’s so fast, but they’re doing wonderful things with it.”

Pickleball players can be found at the local courts almost every day. At the facilities located at Frank Pate Park in Port St. Joe, less competitive players practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sunday afternoons, weather permitting. A more competitive group of players practices on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. All are welcome to join.

Those looking for more information can join the Port St. Joe Pickleball Facebook group.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.