Siouxland Stories: Siouxland men reflect on nearly decade long push for Pickleball

Siouxland Stories

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — There was a time when tennis court in city parks would be filled on summer days. Now, it’s a much smaller game taking center court.

Pickleball, played with hard paddles and whiffle ball of sorts, is America’s fastest growing game. Two Siouxlanders helped serve up the game locally, when few had even heard of it.

To fully understand the unprecedented growth of Pickleball in Sioux City, you have to turn back the calendar to 2013.

“I was used to playing in Arizona six days a week. I called Parks and Rec and they said, ‘What’s Pickleball?’ said Ken Keef.

“When we came back from Arizona we really didn’t know where to start,” added Steve Seivers.

The pair found themselves in, well, a pickle.

“It was like, ‘What is that?’ They hadn’t heard of it,” added Ken.

Apparently, recreation staffers weren’t really excited about rectifying the problem back then.

“This court to the far east had a faulty net that wouldn’t move. Parks and Rec agreed to let us use that. We chalked out the court and used the low net for the summer season,” said Ken.

The pair, along with fellow snowbirds Sharon Dornon and Chuck Smolley, didn’t relent.  And Siouxland is better for it.

“It’s ironic that this is where we started and chalked the lines out and now, we have this complex which is remarkable,” Ken added.
Quite a feat indeed. Since last July, when the Riverside Park complex opened, hundreds have picked up a paddle and the fastest growing sport in America.

“They tell a friend and they tell another and they come and try it. They may not be good at first, but they keep trying. If you lose the game, well, try again not that big a deal,” Steve said.

“You can tell when someone is playing pickleball. There’s a distinctive sound, ball on the paddle. It’s got its own sound,” said Steve.

As the post-pandemic days grow in number, this not so socially distant game appears to have a safe home in Siouxland. Even producing unexpected pitstops from cross country travelers.

“This is a very nice complex. We are traveling and looked it up and now staying another day to play. This is nicer than what we have in St. Petersburg,” said the Czerwinski family.

So, even though you may find the name of the game a bit confusing.

“They just need to give pickleball a chance. Try it and you’ll like it,” Steve said.

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