Freeland on Whidbey Island, Washington, located not 50 miles north of the exact spot where pickleball was first conceived, now has its very own exclusive indoor pickleball center!
Residents of South Whidbey, Paul and Abi Tschetter noticed an interesting niche in their community’s amenities — specifically, the absence of any dedicated pickleball facilities. This realization led them to embark on a new venture: the Whidbey Pickle Barn.
Whidbey Pickle Barn
Their new business, Whidbey Pickle Barn, will be open to members and visitors in January. The club offered a December Preview to the pickleball curious, which provided almost daily sessions at a discounted rate. It was also a good chance to check out the brand-new indoor, climate-controlled courts.
Abi, a self-identified casual player, told Kira Erickson of The South Whidby Record, “For those people who really play a lot, we were wanting to do something different so you could play as much as you wanted to on the South End.”
Her husband, Paul, a more enthusiastic player, recalled how he got hooked a few years ago.
“The ironic part is I just had no interest in it, and basically, somebody invited me to play once,” he said.
The Birthplace Of Pickleball
Despite the birthplace of pickleball being so close, the Tschetters were surprised by the scarcity of dedicated facilities in their area. Paul humorously described their two-court facility as “Whidbey Island sized,” highlighting their aim to cultivate a tight-knit community around the sport.
“We’ve got a good core of hardcore players, but part of the heart behind this was to bring more people into the fold and be a part of the community,” he said. “When you don’t have a place, it’s pretty hard to do that.”
The club will implement an online reservation system, enabling players to book slots with friends or random groups based on skill levels.
Unique Key Codes
Operating from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days, excluding major holidays, access to the facility will be granted via unique key codes assigned to each reservation.
Additionally, instructor Tim Sanford will conduct various clinics catering to beginners, intermediates, and advanced players, emphasizing that pickleball is inclusive of all ages and skill levels.
“Anyone can play. I teach an 8-year-old all the way to an 82-year-old. You don’t have to be athletic to play,” he said, pointing out that one of his best students is an artist who had never played a sport before.
“Get one or two good shots, and you’re coming back,” Sanford said.
The Accessibility Of Pickleball
Paul highlighted the accessibility of pickleball, citing minimal financial barriers as it only requires suitable shoes, a paddle, and a plastic ball. The Whidbey Pickle Barn plans to provide loaner paddles for newcomers, anticipating a surge of interest from beginners.
“Our hypothesis is, pickleball’s so hot, there’s a ton of beginners that want to play,” he explained.
Humor and camaraderie form integral parts of the pickleball experience, according to Paul, who emphasized the laughter derived from the game’s unpredictable and amusing moments during their frequent play sessions.
“There’s not a time where we play – and we play three, four times a week – where you’re just on the ground laughing because there’s a funny shot or an amazing shot or you get hit in the head with a ball,” he says. “You’re always giggling about something.”
Membership options include an annual package priced at $1,200 or a monthly subscription at $75 with an additional hourly court fee of $2.75.
For visitors, the hourly fee is $12.50. Memberships are now active and accessible through the Court Reserve app via this link.
Whidbey is about 30 miles (48 km) north of Seattle and lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 corridor of western Washington.
The island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound and was home to nearly 70,000 residents, according to the 2010 census.
Whidbey Island is approximately 37 miles (60 km) from north to south and 1.5 to 10 miles (2.4 to 16.1 km) wide, making it the 40th largest island in the United States.
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