July 17, 2024 Donate

Chelsea

Chelsea Turns Out to Celebrate New TimberTown Courts

By Natalie Davies

Chelsea Pickleball celebrated three years of work towards an outdoor facility on Monday when the courts at TimberTown opened.

More than 100 community members showed up for a ribbon cutting followed by open play.

Local pickleball players and groups, including Chelsea Pickleball and Chelsea Senior Center Pickleball, started planning for outdoor courts about three years ago, but the project didn’t take off until they joined forces with the TimberTown Reimaged project.

Laura Ouellette, a USA Pickleball District Ambassador and Great Lakes Recreation Specialist, and Jodi Daniels, Chelsea Pickleball club player and significant donor, cut the ribbon and officially opened the courts.

Ouellette and Daniels spoke about creating the courts, along with TimberTown Reimagined member Jeff Hardcastle, Mayor Jane Pacheco, and City Manager Marty Colburn.

“Because of the amount of effort and time from so many wonderful people, these courts have happened,” Daniels said. “I’ve played pickleball in so many places, but the people in Chelsea are the most giving and welcoming group of people.”

Photo by Natalie Davies

Fundraising for the courts took only 90 days, and all the funding came from private donations from community members. Ouellette gave a special thank you to Daniels for her financial support and work on the project.

Ouellette also thanked members of the project fundraising committee, Chelsea Senior Center Steering Committee, Chelsea Senior Center trainers, Chelsea Senior Center court monitors, and Wolverine Pickleball for their support of the courts.

Hardcastle said the courts are phase one of the TimberTown project, where community members will rebuild the whole TimberTown structure. The project requires 400-500 volunteers, and Hardcastle said to be on the lookout for volunteer sign-ups.

Colburn and Pacheco applauded the community members for their initiative and involvement in bringing the courts to fruition.

“The city itself is just a city unless you step up as a community,” Colburn said. “And you do that in many ways, such as these events today or on the boards and commissions that make them possible.”

Pacheco said the park and city development don’t stop here. The city needs community support for projects like building a natatorium, coordinated community programming, and more.

“This (pickleball court) does not happen if we don’t have huge community support,” Pacheco said. “This right here is a perfect example of what can happen when we work together. So good job, thank you so much and look for more ways to be involved.”

Photo by Natalie Davies

Ouellette said she traveled 37 places around the country last year and hasn’t seen courts as nice as the ones in Chelsea.

“If you look at other courts, I challenge you to find an outdoor facility that is going to look like this (TimberTown) facility when our landscape project is done. I don’t know that I’ve seen anything better,” Ouellette said. “Our entire club has grown so big these last couple of years and has done amazing work not only financially supporting this project but also having the attitude to get it done quickly and with such amazing quality.”

Ouellette said pickleball is much more than a game. She retired after 25 years in law enforcement. She said she first tried gym classes but didn’t find the community she was looking for after retirement until she started playing pickleball.

“When I saw pickleball, I came from my corner of the forest,” Ouellette said. “I could never imagine the community of friendships and volume of people that would come into my life. It is a part of who I am and not just what I do. When you retire, when you get divorced, when you become widowed, when you get cancer, or any of these life events that our members are experiencing that are life-changing experiences for them, the friends we make through this game will be with us for life. We all support each other through our life-changing events.”

The courts will offer organized open play from 9 a.m. to noon every day and 5-8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“That means you can come here with no friends and leave with many,” Ouellette said. “You’re at a public court, so you have to bring your own paddle and ball. If you’re looking for games, you’re guaranteed to get a game during open play. You can come here as a single person, as a doubles or partner, or as a group and get games.”

Chelsea Area Friends for Recreation will offer free lessons on June 25 at 6 p.m. at the courts, with paddles and balls provided, for Rec-it-Tuesday.