PORTSMOUTH- The Mound Park Pickleball Club only recently set out to renovate the pickleball and tennis courts at Mound Park, a place they call home and play regularly. The mission was determined to be an important, but serious, undertaking with a budget of $172,154. Despite the decision being recent, the group has been working with the powerful force of a large club of influential community champions, already surpassing their halfway mark and starting development of half the courts they have access to. To date, they’ve raised a total of nearly $100,000 in three months.
They’ve made serious efforts, organizing a rummage sale fundraiser that brought in $5,000, running a donation campaign, and seeking support from the City of Portsmouth. Last weekend, they held their largest fundraiser yet, the Celebrity Pickleball Tournament, which they say brought in over $12,000.
“I think the event went great. The atmosphere and weather were both wonderful. The spectators and family members were all enjoying themselves; I think everyone enjoyed themselves,” MPPC’s Randy Smith said. “We’re already planning next year, and I think it will be even bigger and better. We’ve been meeting and discussing the event and we know what we can do better and how we need to pivot.”
There were a dozen teams playing for the title of victor and the coveted role of People’s Choice.
The celebrities are each paired with a Portsmouth Pickleball Club member. The teams include Steve Hayes and Beth Haney, Megan Baum and Amanda Rhea, Jared Brankamp and Brittany Blacker, Gerald Cadogan and Cara Dobbins, Mike Glockner and Steve Fitzer, Tanner Hatcher and Amy Hassel, Dr. Amy Heim and Chris Day, Asa Jewett and Richie Purdy, Josh Morris and Ronnie Williams, Andrew Graf and Mike Mershon, Taylor Babcock and Mimi Clausing, Wendi Waugh and Randy Smith.
“I think this event is helping us make the new courts happen, which is a good thing, not only for the club, but the entire community,” Smith claimed. “A lot of people will benefit from this, from current players to prospective players and even the surrounding neighborhood.”
Smith has been organizing the event as a loyal member of the club, alongside friend Diane Applegate. He is looking forward to the new courts and says that they’re very important.
“I think they’re utmost important. Many have seen the courts, with the cracks and weeds and color,” Smith said. “The protective coating has faded, and it makes for a slippery court. It is going to be a great addition to Mound Park.”
The contractor has already begun working on half the project, as they’ve met their halfway goal. The new courts should be ready soon and phase two will kick off.
“I’m really happy. It’s happening really fast; faster than I thought it would. My wife and I keep watching the bank account growing and growing and it makes us very happy,” MPPC’s Richie Purdy said. “We’ve had great support. Everyone I talk to and see, people come up to me all the time asking how things are going and other people are coming up to me and asking how to give and support our mission.”
Purdy is excited to get the courts complete and believes it will have a big impact on the community.
“I think they’re going to be huge. I even talk with the neighbors across the street, and they’re really excited about it,” Purdy said. “I want everyone in the community to know that this isn’t just for us; it is for everyone. If kids want to come play, anyone at all; everyone is welcome. Plus, this is really going to help the park and make everything look good.”
Smith said a lot of people came together to make this fundraiser possible.
“I want to thank all the celebrities who put in time and energy to make this happen. From practicing the sport with the club beforehand to the event itself. I also need to thank the many Mound Park Pickleball Club members who volunteered to teach the celebrities and work the event. We also had a lot of people who donated and voted for People’s Choice. It was nice to see so many community members involved,” Smith said. “Finally, Diane Applegate deserves so much recognition, because she is a force of nature, a Mound Park Energizer Bunny, who helped organize and plan and make this happen.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.