RIVER FALLS, Wis.-- When four permanently striped pickleball courts were painted on the gym floor of Greenwood Elementary School as part of the school district improvements approved in the 2018 city-wide referendum, the River Falls Pickleball Association (RFPBA) wanted to show its appreciation by donating $700 worth of pickleballs and new Prolite paddles to the school to help move the sport forward in the school district.

The 65-plus members of the seven year-old RFPBA use permanent outdoor courts at Glen Park in the summer and have played on temporary striped courts in the Greenwood gym in the winter. During the remodeling of the Greenwood Gym as part of the school referendum the RFPBA has been playing on temporary courts at Westside Elementary, but has moved back to Greenwood with the improvements to the gym now complete.

“Our association would like to thank the River Falls School District for allowing us to play in their facility,” RFPBA president LeLand Lueck said. “We would also like to thank Mary Linehan, the physical education teacher, for allowing us to use her gym.”

Lueck said the association has also volunteered to help Linehan with early instruction and introduction of the sport to her classes.

Lueck said pickleball has come a long way since the RFPBA was founded in 2013. The group raised money to construct four outdoor courts on the old tennis courts at Glen Park in 2014 and used two indoor courts at the old River Falls Academy in 2014-15. They moved to Greenwood, where they were able to fit three indoor courts, in the winter of 2016 before most recently playing at Westside Elementary.

In addition to the newly-striped four indoor courts at Greenwood, the River Falls School District has also built four outdoor courts located east of Meyer Middle School.

Shortly after donating the equipment and paddles to the school district last month, RFPBA followed up with a $500 donation towards the purchase of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) machine for the Greenwood gym.

Lueck said RFPBA members play indoors during the winter on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights on the four courts at Greenwood Elementary with two sessions consisting of 20 players per session. Anyone interested in joining can contact River Falls Parks and Recreation director Cindi Danke at 715 426-3420. Cost is $25 to join and $15 annually for River Falls residents and $35 and $60 yearly renewal for nonresidents. RFPBA furnishes balls and nets and provides weekly pickleball tips, links to tournaments and instructional videos, a spring pickleball clinic and social events.

For more information about RFPBA, contact Lueck at 715 781-0183 or LeLand.lueck777@gmail.com.