As interest in pickleball grew, John Lee’s Campus Recreation staff drew chalk lines on tennis courts to modify the space for the sport.
Later this fall, pickleball becomes permanent on campus at the Heskett Center’s Outdoor Sports Complex.
When it became necessary to resurface six tennis courts, Lee, director of Campus Recreation, decided to do something different. The complex will feature four pickleball courts, two courts for tennis and two existing courts for half-court basketball and one for futsal.
Morgan Regier, a senior physical education major, often plays pickleball at places around Wichita. She enjoys the activity and the social aspect of the sport, attributes she believes will enhance a college campus.
“It’s a fun experience to get exercise,” she said. “Any type of community on campus is looking for ways to reach out and create new relationships. Having something like that is a great way to build community.”
Lee said he can expand intramural pickleball, and he is interested in starting a club team. The sport hit Wichita State around five years ago, and its popularity continues to grow.
“To me, it’s a cross between badminton and tennis,” he said. “Quicker. Shorter. Tennis is still a need, but we felt like pickleball isn’t a fad anymore.”
With futsal already popular, Lee said he believes the addition of pickleball courts will increase the number of people using the complex. The courts are lighted and free and open until midnight. Equipment can be checked out in the Heskett Center at no additional charge for students and members.
“People play from all ages,” Lee said. “There is a need for informal outdoor recreation. If you live in one of the residence halls, it’s nice to have.”
Regier is involved with several campus organizations who might use the upgraded courts.
“I think getting new courts there is going to be really cool,” she said. “I think it will be really accessible for everybody. Pickleball is more popular in the Midwest, so for students from the East Coast or West Coast, that will be a new sport they can learn.”