Community, The Braxton Democrat

“America’s newest sport” comes to the town of Gassaway

Work already begun to develop additional pickleball courts

By Shirley Shuman
The one responsible for a pickleball court in the town of Gassaway calls it “America’s newest sport,” and it may well be. Pickleball has become popular in areas throughout the United States, and Johnna Stalnaker decided it was definitely time that Gassaway and area residents became acquainted with it. The result is a pickleball court in the town park. Stalnaker explained why she has been so eager to see that, and how she, with help from Lois Cole and others, succeeded in the quest.
“Joe —her companion Joe Cook—and I have been playing pickleball in Florida for two years now,” she said. “It all started as I decided to go on a fitness journey to be healthier. I joined this group which covers a person’s whole lifestyle, including exercising to become physically fit. I was introduced to pickleball, and Joe and I watched a couple of games,” she added.
The couple bought paddles and started playing. They began with singles’ games but soon became acquainted with others playing the sport. Then they returned to Gassaway, where Stalnaker spends much of each year, and, of course, no pickleball courts in the area. They did find courts in Harrison County and began playing there two or three times a week. However, that did not satisfy this pickleball aficionado.
Stalnaker went the proper route to obtain a pickleball court for the local area. She met with the Gassaway Town Council, spoke at a Rotary meeting, and approached Gassaway Mayor Richard Roach. Her efforts did generate interest and she obtained permission to establish a pickleball court in the back part of the town park. She explained that Seth and Quinn Meador painted the lines for the court, and she bought a net. She and Cook had extra paddles which they lent to the project. The result: a pickleball court which has seen numerous individuals playing, waiting to play, and some just watching.
This individual did not stop with a pickleball court in Gassaway’s town park. She has approached individuals about converting at least one of the tennis courts at Holly Gray into pickleball courts. “One tennis court can be converted into three pickleball courts,” she explained, and of course she would like to see more than one converted.
Stalnaker and Cook will return to Florida in early October. Of her efforts and at last partial success, she said simply, “I have planted the seed.” Hopefully, someone else will need to work to see that it grows.