Summit County Pickleball Association helps sport to explode in Summit County

A participant in the Summit County Pickleball Association drop-in game time prepares to serve the ball Wednesday, July 6 at the tennis courts at Dillon Town Park. Pickleball has grown in popularity in Summit County as the Summit County Pickleball Association now has nearly 500 members. The association is hosting its third annual Pickle-in-the-Peaks Pickleball Tournament on July 14-16.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Looking at the sports that are growing in popularity in the US, hockey, lacrosse, boxing and esports often top the list.

However, the sport, which is catching on in the United States and Summit County, does not take place on the ski slopes or on the trails. Rather, it takes place on the pickleball court.

According to a CNBC articlePickleball has quickly become “America’s fastest growing sport, attracting significant interest and financial investment.”



In Summit County in particular, the sport has skyrocketed in recent years. The surge in popularity is due in large part to the Summit County Pickleball Associationa tax-exempt, volunteer, not-for-profit organization that encourages the growth and development of Pickleball.

The Summit County Pickleball Association was established in 2018 and has grown steadily over the past four years.



“We may have started with a membership of around 50 when we started out and we’re on the way to surpassing 500 membership,” said Julie Worthington, secretary of the Summit County Pickleball Association.

Julie Worthington, front left, participates in a pickleball match during Summit County Pickleball Association drop-in game time at the tennis courts of Dillon Town Park on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Worthington serves as the secretary of the Summit County Pickleball Association and has seen the sport grow in popularity in Summit County in recent years.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

The Summit County Pickleball Association offers many activities through club membership, including social events, field trips, pickle potluck brunches, skill clinics, drop-in seasons and tournaments.

“The sport has done nothing but keep growing,” Worthington said. “We have quarterly board meetings, and at each meeting our membership increases.”

Worthington attributes the growth of sport in Summit County to the county’s active population. Residents and visitors are often interested in a plethora of fun activities, and Pickleball offers another option.

“Pickleball feeds directly into her love of taking care of herself and the camaraderie it provides among other fitness individuals,” Worthington said. “It’s one reason our sports continue to grow by leaps and bounds because we have such an active, healthy community in Summit County.”

Pickleball is best described as a mix of tennis, badminton and table tennis.

The Summit County Pickleball Association club is made up of all ages, shapes and sizes. The club is even working to attract more participants and youth to the sport by offering youth and learning programs through a partnership with Silverthorne Recreation Center.

The accessibility that the Summit County Pickleball Association works for is one of the reasons people choose to give the sport a try.

In addition to programs geared towards beginners, the Summit County Pickleball Association also offers drop-in seasons for members and non-members seven days a week throughout the summer.

The drop-in times are spread across Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon and Breckenridge. All four cities provide a place for pickleball players to play and help the sport continue to thrive in Summit County.

“It’s very, very busy up here in the pickleball community,” Worthington said. “There are many places where we can play.”

A participant in the Summit County Pickleball Association drop-in game time prepares to serve the ball Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at the Dillon Town Park tennis courts. Pickleball has grown in popularity in Summit County as the Summit County Pickleball Association now has nearly 500 members.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Aside from offering a new sport to an active community, many have been drawn to the sport because of its ease of learning and playing with a diverse demographic of participants.

The Underwood family is a prime example. Josh Underwood was introduced to the sport by his mother, Mary Alice Underwood. Josh, who says he’s been a competitive sport his whole life, has been playing for the past few years, while Mary Alice picked up the sport in 2016.

“It’s really cool because we can play together,” said Josh Underwood.

“I love playing with Josh,” said Mary Alice. “I can’t play with them [Josh and his wife, Mandy] too often, but I love playing with them. It makes a lot of fun. They can both achieve anything and I don’t have to move much because they have nice young legs.”

The Summit County Pickleball Association hopes to continue growing over the next few years and hopes to hold a successful third annual Pickle in the Peaks pickleball tournament July 14-16 at Rainbow Park in Silverthorne.

The tournament is expected to have over 100 teams this year, slightly exceeding the participation of previous years. The tournament features multiple divisions including men’s and women’s singles, doubles, junior doubles and mixed doubles.

“We were really a small-town tournament geared towards our own membership — to give our members who have never played a tournament a chance to participate,” Worthington said. “What we found out this year is that people in Colorado and our neighboring states have heard about our tournament.”

So many visitors are expected to attend the tournament that if the pickleball craze continues, Worthington expects the tournament will have to be held at multiple locations instead of just Rainbow Park.

Tournament entry fee is $50 per team with a late entry fee of $10 after Sunday July 10th. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Smart Bellies.

To register for the event or become a member of the Summit County Pickleball Association, visit SummitPickleball.org.

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