Pickleball in Angel Fire

The following appeared in the Wheeler Peak Press on August 27.  Submitted by our Pickleball Club President, Rick Hooker.  Thanks to Wheeler Peak Press!

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What is Pickleball?
Why is the Growth of Pickleball in Angel Fire Important to Angel Fire Property Owners?

Our community grows by showcasing to visitors all that we have to offer that enhances their quality of life. Our churches, beautiful mountains, and great weather can’t be beat. Our super skiing, numerous hiking trails, beautiful golf course, pickleball, tennis, and fishing as well as the nicest people you will find anywhere, are our assets. Angel Fire has the perfect setting for being known as the sports activities center of Northeast New Mexico. The Resort and Chamber of Commerce are trying to get more people to visit Angel Fire, especially in the spring and fall when there are fewer things to do. Pickleball in Angel Fire is important due to the fact that it can attract many visitors to our community. So what, you ask, is pickleball?

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States. It is a sport that is played by all ages. It is played on a court 1/3 the size of a tennis court with the net just two inches lower than tennis net. The players use a solid paddle and hit a wiffle ball. Singles and doubles can be played on the same court. This is the 50th year of pickleball. The majority of the growth has come in the last ten years. It is now played in all 50 states and in six different countries. In a participation survey by Sports & Fitness Industry Association in 2015, they reported that pickleball currently has 2.46 million players in the US. The USAPA (United States of America Pickleball Association) website which keeps track of the number of locations to play pickleball reported that the increase in the last twenty nine months ending in May ’15 was 103%. Seventy-six new locations every month were added to play in 2015. You can look up more information about the game and watch videos of pickleball games by going to the USAPA website.

The pickleball players in Angel Fire are trying to get six dedicated pickleball courts built near the tennis courts. Six courts give us enough courts to hold tournaments at different times of the year. These six courts would cover an area just a little larger that two tennis courts. Brett Hall, the tennis pro in Angel Fire, is in favor of the pickleball players having their own courts. Right now the pickleball program has one tennis court with lines painted on it for two pickleball courts. We appreciate that we have these lines on the tennis courts, but we look at these lines as temporary until we can build dedicated pickleball courts. Then the pickleball lines will be removed from the tennis courts.

Our Angel Fire Pickleball Club has grown in the last two years from six players to fifty-four players with other players playing that have not joined our club yet. We put on beginner clinics for new players and visitors that are in town every Monday night in July and August. These have been very successful and we have averaged 11 new players every night this summer. We have full courts when we play and have extra players waiting to play. That gives you a brief description of pickleball. But why is the growth of pickleball important to Angel Fire?

Pickleball tournaments bring in visitors to our community that have never been here before. Angel Fire Pickleball Club is going to host a pickleball tournament in August of 2016 at the Angel Fire Resort tennis courts. We expect there to be 100 players at our first tournament. This tournament will be a three-day event. Players will rent hotel rooms, condos, and homes, eat in our restaurants, buy gas, and have the opportunity to look around at lots for sale, existing homes for sale, and see the new construction of new homes happening here in Angel Fire. This is the type of exposure Angel Fire needs in order to attract more people to live here part-time or full time. Many players travel and only stop in places where they can play pickleball. Some travel in their RV’s and some by car. Some stay a few days and some find a place to stay the whole summer to get out of the heat. Our local shops need these visitors. Our real estate and construction businesses need these visitors. Our local economy needs these visitors. Property owners that are trying to sell their lots and existing homes need these visitors to come and experience Angel Fire. The property owners of Angel Fire need the pickleball program to continue to grow.

As an example of economic impact, in Springfield, Illinois, they hosted a tournament for 221 players. Their economic development office stated that the dollar impact for the city was $108,000. Besides the tournament players coming and our own group of Angel Fire property owners, we also have players who come to play on a weekly basis from Black Lake, Eagle Nest, Red River, and Taos who contribute to the economy of Angel Fire.

To continue to build our pickleball program, we need the support of the Angel Fire Property Owners to support the building of the six dedicated pickleball courts. At some point in the near future, you will be asked as Angel Fire property owners if you support the growth of our program. We sincerely hope you will see the benefits for the community and support us in our growth.

Thank you, Rick Hooker
President of Angel Fire Pickleball Club
USAPA Ambassador for Angel Fire, NM

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