Brian and Becky Haskin caught the pickleball bug while spending the winter in Florida, and they knew it was something they wanted to take back home to Lake Odessa, Michigan. What they didn’t know at the time was just how far they’d take things.
“We enjoyed the sport so much that we came home and built a single court at our house and started getting neighbors and friends to come over and play,” says Brian Haskin. “Then, we started meeting a whole group of different people who enjoyed the sport, and we now refer to them as our ‘pickleball family.’”
The Haskins thought a facility dedicated to the trendy racquet sport could bring some value to their small community. So, Brian spoke with the board of the Lake Odessa Fairground. Members offered him property where pickleball courts could be installed, as long as supporters could raise the money.
The Haskins own a local excavation and drainage business and donated these services for a significant proportion of the work.
“We actually dug the area for the courts down into the ground, so that’s where we came up with the name, ‘Picklebowl,’ because it’s down in a bowl,” he explains.
There were also many individual donors and area businesses that pitched in with donations. Major contributors received special recognition with pavers on the so-called “Pickleball of Fame.” Haskin explains that a walkway between the courts includes a yellow pickleball bearing the names of key donors. However, he’s grateful to all who’ve helped make the project a reality.
“People have been outstanding as far as stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘here’s $100, here’s $500, we know you’re doing a good thing for this community,’” he says.
A Sports Surface to Set the Picklebowl Apart
Dave Orzula, a partner and founder of Floor Care Concepts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has a home in Lake Odessa. He heard about the Haskins’ pickleball court efforts and decided Floor Care Concepts needed to be involved.
Floor Care Concepts Operations Manager, Lance Lutke, told the Haskins about Action Floor System’s Herculan TC synthetic pickleball surface as a premium option for the new courts.
“They were super interested, but since there was nothing nearby for them to try out, they were a little concerned about committing to this new court technology,” Lutke says.
Typical tennis courts, on which pickleball is often played, are nothing more than hard asphalt or concrete with brittle acrylic paint on the top. However, Action Herculan TC/PB provides enhanced performance attributes, including elasticity, impact resistance and elongation, which all resist fracture and provide excellent shock absorption properties because of its rubber pad and urethane components.
To give the Haskins the opportunity to experience the difference, Action Floors and Floor Care Concepts worked together and resurfaced the couple’s home court.
“It sounded great to them, but they were still concerned it would affect the play of the ball.” Lutke explains. “They worried it wouldn’t have the same ball return and people wouldn’t like it. That was another reason we wanted to get it on their personal court.”
After using the resurfaced court, and inviting pickleball athletes with a variety of skill and experience to play on the Action Herculan TC/PB, Brian Haskin says the difference was clear.
“Nobody had anything bad to say about it,” he says.
“Once they had the new surface in there, they saw for themselves that it had zero effect on ball bounce,” Lutke adds.
The benefits of shock absorption go beyond playing the game, it also has noticeable effects on athletes who would normally feel aches and pains after a day of competitive pickleball.
“The comfort, support, and playability of a surface with good shock absorption is one of those things you can’t really put numbers to other than hearing how people feel after playing on a surface,” Lutke says. “Once people play on it, they can’t believe it.”
“That was the deciding factor in going with the Action Herculan TC surface,” Haskin says. “If we were going to have these courts in a town of 2,000 people, we needed something to make people come visit.”
Yet another benefit of Action Herculan TC/PB became apparent as the Haskins tested out their resurfaced home court. Lutke says sand that’s used in the topcoat and game lines of the polyurethane sports surface makes it easier to play on following rainy weather.
“A typical pickleball or tennis court surface gets extremely slippery,” Lutke says. “After heavy rain, you need to squeegee off the puddles, then you still have to wait for it to completely dry. We noticed with the Action Herculan TC/PB that they could start playing immediately after clearing puddles off the court. It dries very quickly.”
The Picklebowl’s Big Unveiling
Floor Care Concepts finished installing all eight pickleball courts at the Lake Odessa Fairgrounds just one week before the facility was to host its inaugural tournament during the fair. Haskin says the tournament attracted 244 participants from 13 states and Canada.
“A lot of those people have come back to play on it again because they liked it so much,” he says.
The courts are open to the public year-round and used by the local pickleball club, but folks are already looking forward to next year’s tournament during the Lake Odessa Fair.
“People could go out to get food and visit the beer tent when they weren’t playing,” Haskin says. “So, it was a lot of fun and turned out to be a real nice venue.”
Haskin says there are still a few finishing touches that will be added to the facility, but he’s satisfied with the results of all the hard work and planning. He hopes the Lake Odessa Picklebowl will attract new participants to a sport he’s grown to love, adding that anyone who enjoys other racquet sports should give pickleball a try.
“If you think it’s just an old man’s sport, you need to come out and play it. I’ve played with 12-year-olds and 82-year-olds,” Haskin says. “I’ve never seen anyone jogging by my house for exercise with a smile on their face. But, when you’re out on the pickleball court, you’re laughing, you’re meeting new people, and it is a great workout. I just can’t say enough about this sport.”
Find out more about the interesting backstory and rules of the game in our blog post on pickleball. If you have questions about Action Herculan TC for pickleball and tennis courts, contact Action Floors today.