(Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune)
The Bossier Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, March 19, to celebrate Bossier Parish’s first Pickleball courts. The new Pickleball courts are located at the Bellaire Complex (Bellaire Baptist Church – South Campus) on Panther Drive (across from Elm Grove Middle School).
Invented in 1965 by three middle-aged fathers in Washington state, Pickleball is a quirky cross between tennis, ping pong and badminton. Pickleball is played with a paddle and a perforated plastic ball.
Bossier Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Lisa Johnson said, “It warms our heart at the Chamber of Commerce when citizens step up to the plate and say ‘Hey, I think this is something we need for our community’ and then you’re able to go to your church and say ‘Hey, can you support me in this’ and the faith based community comes together at Bellaire Baptist Church. This is so exciting because we are a community Chamber. We’re not just a business Chamber. It’s all about quality of life and quality of place. And, that’s what brings businesses and residents here.”
With 4.8 million people now playing Pickleball — the level of participation has almost doubled from just five years ago, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
“These courts are for you to come and to play and to interact with friends. And, these courts are for someone to share their story of how they came to know the Lord and how the Lord changed their life. And, that is the purpose for which we want to dedicate these courts. We want to use them to reach people for the glory of God,” said Bellaire Baptist Church Pastor, Dr. Randy Harper.
The game now has two national professional tournaments. Both tournaments have been formed in the last four years. And, Pickleball organizers are courting corporate sponsors to help grow the sport both in the United States and abroad as part of a bid for Olympic inclusion.
Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler also made some comments during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “I thank and appreciate the brains behind this project. Pastor Harper, I thank you for putting this here. Pickleball has really advanced in the country. I feel like this might not be enough courts. I also want to thank my city councilmen for everything they do to help the South Bossier area,” said Mayor Chandler.
There were comments from several Bellaire Baptist Church staff members and Pickleball court project committee members during the event. And, Brian Hammons, Bossier City Councilman for District 1, and Chris Smith, Bossier City Councilman At-Large, also made some comments during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Bellaire Complex (Bellaire Baptist Church – South Campus) is located at 4330 Panther Drive in Bossier City.