Michael Lang - January 2023
Happy New Year!
As we begin the new year, I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and you are pondering your 2023 "Pickleball Resolutions". There is much on the horizon for the Monterey Bay Pickleball club in 2023 including the resumption of club play! I think this will prove to be an exciting year for us. There is much to discuss, so let's dive right in.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the MBPC Pickleball Survey this fall. We had about 100 responses which is terrific. Let's look at how the club will use the survey results going forward.
Many of the questions focused on current play routines. The purpose of these questions was to understand how MBPC play can augment play on the peninsula. The #1 complaint was the lack of organized skill-based play (example: beginner, intermediated, and advanced courts). While the vast majority of players (74%) identify as non-competitive players, they still enjoy playing with players of similar abilities.
Other top complaints centered around the lack of pickleball courts and quality of pickleball courts. For example, restricted days/times and long wait times were two of the top vote getters.
Two items stood out in terms of enhancing player experiences: drills and socials. It was surprising to see that 80% of players were interested in doing drills to improve their game. In fact, 64% said that they would like to see dedicated courts for drilling during MBPC club play. 75% were interested in club socials with food (pot luck, etc).
Going forward, the club will strive to address the issues above.
As mentioned in our previous club update, the tennis courts at MPC have reopened and are available for public play. Our plan is to use the courts at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) for club play. There are 6 pickleball courts striped on the existing tennis courts. We have stocked a storage box with 6 nets for use by the community and the combination is available to all club members. The MPC courts can be used on a first-come/first-served basis whenever the courts are not in use by the school. On the downside, there is a minimal fee for parking at MPC.
The survey contained several questions about playing at MPC. We found that 67% of respondents are willing to try playing at MPC. As expected, some (20%) are not interested due to the parking fee. Our plan is to play on the weekend. Once this ramps up, we may add play on weekdays as well (63% would like to see club play 3 or more times per week). However, we need to consider that parking is tight during the week and the courts may be in use by classes.
It's important to reemphasize that we don't have exclusive access to the courts or even priority to use the courts. The courts are not available to us, or anyone else, when they are being used for classes (typically, weekday mornings). Like community play at public parks such as Forest Hill in Carmel, we need to share the facilities with others. If there are tennis players or other pickleballs players engaged in their own private matches during our scheduled play time, we will need to work around them. As has always been the case, all pickleball players are welcome to join us even if they are not club members.
There is also an exciting new development at MPC. The college has seen the growth of pickleball in our community as well as sustained interest in their pickleball classes. In fact, many of our club members have taken those classes. MPC is currently planning to renovate their tennis courts using funding from Measure V. Your tax dollars at work! This ballot measure, which passed in 2020, provides funds for facility improvements at MPC, which includes the tennis courts. While planning is still in progress, the last update I heard indicated that they are planning to add 8 dedicated pickleball courts as part of the tennis court renovation. Work on this could start as early as this summer. Of course, keep your fingers crossed as plans have a way of changing. We will keep you posted on progress.
Additional Facility Development
The remainder of the questions focused on our attempts to build a dedicated pickleball facility at Ryan Ranch, or elsewhere in our community. We found that 91% of the respondents said they would be willing to make donations to support this effort. Total contributions reflected in the survey add up to $15,000! In addition, 85% said they would be willing to pay at least $50 per year to play there.
While this is not a commitment, these are fantastic indicators of player support for a dedicated public facility. Obviously, the actual cost of a 6 to 8 court facility is much higher. Probably in the neighborhood of $250K. If we could raise $100K in private donations, I think it would significantly bolster our project with the City of Monterey.
In the next few weeks, I plan to organize a group to drive this fundraising effort as well as seek out other possible locations if Ryan Ranch doesn't work out. Several people have indicated an interest in helping with these efforts. I will be reaching out to them soon. If you would like to help, please email me at: MichaelALang@comcast.net. Additionally, if you know someone with deep pockets or have contacts in industry that might be willing to support this effort, please reach out to us. A few large donors make efforts like this much easier. We are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so donations may be tax deductible. :)
For additional survey highlights and conclusions, see the presentation here.
As mentioned above, we would like MBPC play to augment play that is already available. Play on our municipal courts is somewhat of a free-for-all with little organization beyond paddles hanging on fences. Using the survey feedback, our past club experiences, and ideas obtained from other pickleball communities, we hope to develop a more structured play environment that addresses some of the current issues. This is just a first attempt and we are interested in your feedback. We'll see how it goes and adjust accordingly. ;)
We are planning to resume play in a couple weeks. I'll create another post with the club play details.
Because the survey indicated a large number of players wanted to do drills, I would personally like to setup a drills day. My pickleball New Year's resolution is to do 4 hours of drills each week. That will be a challenge! Here's one idea of how a drills day would work. Each week I would post 1 or 2 drill videos from You Tube. You would watch the videos and understand the topics. If you want to join, you would signup to attend. Then, we would get together and do those drills for 1-2 hours. To add some fun, we might end each session with skinny singles because I think that's the best overall drill.
I think we should build momentum on the regular club play dates first, then, work in an additional drills day schedule later. So, stay tuned. Let me know your thoughts about a drills day in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
Lastly, we have a Club Discount code for Pickleball Central. Please use this if you order anything from them. You will receive 5% off your order and the club will also receive 5% credit which we can use for new nets, etc. Details of this program are here.
The discount code is: CRMonterey
See you on the courts!