HISTORY OF PICKLEBALL IN ROCHESTER
After wintering in Florida, Kathy Kinzer returned to Rochester with enthusiasm over a game called pickleball that was all the rage in Florida. Kathy introduced Jan Czaplewski, her sister-in-law, to the game of Pickleball. And the rest is history….
Jan approached what was then known as the Senior Center which was receptive to providing a venue to play pickleball in Rochester. Following the purchase of a net, balls and paddles, the net was set up in Reed Hall and a small group of 4-5 people began to play the game.
By 2010, more people were enjoying the game with an interest in playing pickleball year round. Kathy approached Rochester Parks and Recreation, shared the growing interest in pickleball, and received permission to paint lines on the two tennis courts at Goose Egg Park. Shortly thereafter, pickleball lines were painted on the two courts at Cooke Park.
With growth in the sport and need for more courts, indoor play was moved from the Senior Center to the Rochester Recreation Center where space allowed for three courts. As the number of players grew, the dream to secure more outdoor courts materialized. A core sub-group of players began meeting and brought a proposal forward to Rochester Parks and Recreation to convert the two existing tennis courts at Cooke Park to six pickleball courts. Cost of the project proved to be a barrier. After several meetings, the pickleball community made a commitment to raise funds to contribute towards the project. Through business sponsorships, grant funding, and individual contributions, nearly 20K was raised. Rochester Parks and Recreation, impressed with the dedication and commitment of the pickleball community, as well as with the amount of funds brought to the table, approved to proceed with the Cooke Park Pickleball court project.
As the number of pickleball enthusiasts grew, the decision was made to organize as a 501(C)3 non-profit, Rochester Area Pickleball Association (RAPA) and a board of directors was appointed to develop the member organization.
The construction of six brand new state-of-the-art Pickleball courts was complete and players from around the area flocked to the courts.
By mid-2017, there were 180 members in RAPA. With growth, there was more differentiation in skill level; from the highly skilled competitive players to the intermediate and novice social players.
As the organization evolved, a website and Facebook page were launched. Ladder play providing players an opportunity for competitive play was offered. Members participated in regional tournaments.
By the end of 2018, there were over 300 members of RAPA. The first annual report was produced and will serve as the vehicle to track the organization’s continued history and growth.