Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

Without much cost or rigmarole, Dimondale has created a new village craze: Pickleball. This has led to the formation of the Dimondale Pickleball Society (DPS). Its uniqueness brings a simple, inexpensive idea to Dimondale; an outdoor activity that also serves to reconnect with neighbors, and maybe even burn a few calories, too, after being shut away for so much of the last year due to COVID-19.
“Just what is pickleball?” many are asking. Pickleball combines badminton, ping pong, and tennis into one game. A pickleball court is slightly smaller than a tennis court, and two or four players play. Wood or composite paddles are used, along with a perforated ball, similar to a wiffleball. All ages can play.
Denise Parisian, Dimondale Business Association President, came up with the idea, and along with Ryan Whitehill, of EXP Realty and a former tennis pro/coach, and Camron Gnass, a talented graphic designer and the owner of Traction, worked together to make pickleball happen in the Village of Dimondale.
One of the first things they tackled was to recognize the resources available in the community.
The former basketball court, soon-to-be pickle court, was in disrepair, and Amanda Hayhoe, of Hayhoe Asphalt and Paving, stepped up with an offer to repair the court at no charge. It is now able to be used for both pickleball and basketball. This is not intended to be the permanent court. Fundraising will begin to pay for a more permanent installation.
Gnass used his talents to come up with a unique logo for the group. T-shirts were ordered, along with posters and banners. The t-shirts sold out almost immediately, and more are being ordered.
“Apparently there is not an overabundance of pickleball shirts out there, as we sold them to people from Chicago and Grand Rapids and college students, along with our own local sales,” Parisian said.
Whitehill agreed to teach free weekly pickleball lessons each Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the courts which are located at the corner of Jefferson and South Bridge Streets. You don’t have to be a village resident to attend. The net is up all day on Wednesday for open play for those with their own equipment. Parisian brings in paddles and balls around 5 p.m. for those who don’t have their own equipment, to have a little practice time before class. They have been averaging about 40 people each week for the class.
“With very little effort and very little cost on our part,” Parisian said, “everything is falling into place. Plus, people are having a great time!”
“The phones have been on fire since we started this. We’ve received an overwhelming amount of attention,” Parisian said. “The best part is that people are showing up to play.”
And it’s more than just learning a new sport, Parisian noted. People are making friends, exchanging phone numbers, and developing comradery amongst the players. It’s exceeding all her expectations for the project, she said, her voice bubbling with excitement.
“If it sustains itself, it will grow,” Parisian said. Up to this point, it has been self-funded by the founders of the DPS. Whitehill provided some good connections for the equipment needed and located some sponsors. A smaller children’s pickleball court was put into place so that their moms could play pickleball.
“We’ve had more than one volunteer offer to raise the funds needed for more permanent courts,” Parisian said. “When people see how much other people are enjoying the game, they are more willing to donate to the cause.”
Parisian also pointed out the Dimondale Farmer’s Market held on Thursdays is doing very well. “Last week we had over 500 visitors at the market. I think people are very happy to be outdoors.”
Find The Dimondale Pickleball Society on Facebook at DimondalePickleballSociety or contact the Dimondale Village office at (517) 646-0230 for more information.