A Place for Pickleball
It was a few decades ago when playing tennis meant finding a facility and waiting impatiently for a court to open up. American stars like John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and Chris Evert kept the sport in the public eye and it reached its peak in popularity. Then, for whatever reason, tennis saw a decline in participation and all the courts that were built for the surge grew more weeds than interest, and the fenced-in asphalt became a great place to let your dog off the leash.
Fast-forward to today and you’re gonna have a hard time finding a court again. Is tennis back? The pandemic created a bump in interest, but most of the action on the court these days is of the pickleball kind.
Don’t be fooled by the name. There are no pickles involved. There’s a story behind the name, but suffice it to say, it’s misleading at best.
Pickleball is a scaled down version of tennis with rackets and balls that are similar, but more suited to a smaller court and a different breed of player. They’re usually a little older… but still looking for moderate physical activity that might also provide some social interaction as well. Pickleball provides both.
Pickleballers, in case you don’t know one, are fervent in their love of the game. The problem now is finding a place to play, particularly in winter. Between 2019 and 2021, pickleball was the fastest growing sport in the U.S. Combine that with a renewed interest in tennis due to the pandemic, and court time is once again a precious commodity.
Until communities and special interest groups can come together and build courts specifically for pickleball, tennis courts will have to serve two masters, with two sets of boundary lines. It’s not the best setup, but for now it’ll have to do.
The Superiorland Pickleball Club, with more than 160 active members, is the local organization promoting the sport. Club President John Sutton says pickleball is appealing to folks of all ages. “Pickleball is a fun sport and not just for the retired sector of our community. The average age of pickleball players is decreasing! Pickleball is even being taught in high school gym classes.”
Club Vice President Greg McAuliffe says what they really need is a facility offering multiple courts with an indoor component. “Due to the huge growth of the sport, we would like to have one location with many courts, because a big part of the game is the social aspect. Also, an indoor facility would be a very welcome addition as the weather here is so unforgiving.”
The club is just starting the process of trying to bring area municipalities together to create a pickleball facility that will serve the increasing demand. It’s a tall task, but if you talk to a pickleballer, you get the feeling it’s not impossible.
Branding Sawyer International
Did you take the survey yet? The one from Sawyer International about their new brand? You may have seen it since it was widely distributed via social and traditional media as well as various community partners.
You may recall we wrote about issues regarding flights in and out of Sawyer just a couple weeks ago. I’d like to think the survey is a reaction to that Word on the Street post and the subsequent social media comments about the issue … but I doubt it.
According to Assistant Airport Manager Megan Murray, the survey, which has probably been in the works for some time, is intended to gain information to “help the development of a new brand and future enhancements to the airport facility.”
For those unfamiliar with the concept of “branding,” it’s basically the idea or image people have in mind when thinking about specific products, services, and activities of a company, both in a practical and emotional way.
The goals of branding include, but are not limited to… ensure that all your customers understand your position, increase your relevance in the market, enhance your visibility, and make your company have a good reputation before the public. A well-devised marketing plan can help accomplish all of that.
Only one problem. All the branding in the world won’t change the fact that the airlines serving Sawyer International don’t actually offer the products and services their customers want. The airport itself can only do so much. Easy access to long-term parking and a spacious terminal are nice, but travelers would much rather have flights that fit their needs.
And that’s not anything the folks who run the airport, Murray and airport manager Duane DuRay, don’t already know. Unfortunately, flight schedules are pretty much out of their control. The hope is that someday soon, more flights will be added to the schedule at Sawyer and any new branding will be able to deliver on promises made.
Credit should go to those in charge at Sawyer for at least trying to do the best they can with what they have. Surveying the public is one way to let the community know their input is important, if not entirely consequential.
Comments about the survey have questioned its length and the value of some of the questions, but that’s to be expected whenever you ask for input into your operation. But with a fair number of responses, management should be able to make some changes that frequent flyers will find valuable.
And finally, there’s the possibility that the branding effort could lead to a new name to replace the current one… Sawyer International Airport. It’s not on the survey, but maybe they’ll have a contest to “name the airport.” Any ideas?
To take the survey visit sawyerairport.com.
Brits and Brews ‘22
Back again this year is Brits and Brews ‘22, a celebration of the musical British invasion of the ‘60s and ‘70s, featuring your favorite area bands and musicians. It’s tonight and tomorrow night at the Ore Dock, and it serves as a fundraiser for two local non-profits… JJ Packs and Music For All Kids.
Tonight’s fundraising goes to JJ Packs, the local program that provides meals for school kids and their families, who may not have much in the fridge come the end of the week. Donations keep the program in business and volunteers are always welcome.
Tomorrow night’s take goes to Music For All Kids, the music education organization that gives lessons to kids who might not otherwise have access to quality tutoring.
Both organizations provide a valuable service, without the benefit of a sophisticated fundraising machine. So this is your chance to enjoy some of your fave tunes while supporting a couple important kid-focused charities.
For more information visit… www.facebook.com/events/1851818631843936/1851823625176770/