City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Pickleball Explosion

Explore the Latest Sport to Sweep the Nation

Pickleball is an infectious game. And it’s spreading. Fast.

Liberty Township resident Krista Schmidt stumbled into her first pickleball game nearly two years ago.

“I walked by pickleball courts one day at a local fitness center and people waved me over,” says Krista, 44, a nutrition coach and personal trainer in West Chester Township. “They needed a fourth player. I told them I didn’t have a paddle or any equipment, but they insisted I play, and I instantly fell in love with it.”

She went home and told her husband, Joel, 44, president of Schmidt QSR Inc.

“She told me, ‘You have to try this’,” Joel says. “I tried it, and it was addicting.”

Krista then told her three daughters–Kanella, Myla and Eva–as well as her dad, stepmom and  brother, Andreas, about the sport. Now they all play, and 18-year-old Andreas recently started his own pickleball paddle company, Alpha Omega Pickleball.

“It is a sport everyone can play,” says Joel. “It doesn’t matter size or age. Everyone can play, and it’s easy to pick up.”

Krista, Joel and their extended family are part of the pickleball explosion taking place not only in West Chester and Liberty Townships, but also throughout the entire country. In 2023, there were 8.9 million pickleball players in the United States, according to The Sports & Fitness Industry Association. That is an 85 percent increase over 2022, and the growth continues in 2024.

The game is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong played on a badminton-sized court. There are a few unique rules, but the basic premise is to hit the perforated plastic ball over the net so the opposing players cannot return it.

Pickleball doesn’t require much equipment, just a paddle and a ball.

“You need a ball that is less than $3 and you can get paddles from $20 to $250,” says Joel. “It is an inexpensive sport to get into.”

If you’re a beginner, don’t worry. You can quickly learn the game from an experienced player or take a lesson, but it’s not necessary.

“The hardest part is the rules of the game,” Joel says. “You can play without a lesson, if you have someone who has played a lot give you a few tips.”

You’ll need at least two people for a singles game, but most people play doubles with four players. Games typically take 20-30 minutes and you can then rotate players and keep playing.

Games are typically played to 11 points. You have to win by two points and have to be serving to score.

Playing pickleball is a fun way to live an active, healthy lifestyle. You can play all year on indoor or outdoor courts.

“For me, it is all about the long game,” shares Krista. “Being able to play these sports that are a workout but light on the body, it is a win all the way around. Finding joy in movement is a huge win.”

But pickleball’s low cost and great workout may be secondary reasons for its rapid increase in popularity. 

“It’s great for meeting people,” Joel explains. “You’re on a small court and after games you talk to the people you play and I’ve met hundreds of people over the last two years just from pickleball.”

Krista adds, “I met some of my favorite people through pickleball. We have different experiences and backgrounds, but love pickleball.”


Get in the game at one of these convenient pickleball court locations:

  • Keehner Park, 7411 Barrett Road, West Chester

Four permanent and two temporary outdoor courts are available for free open play in picturesque Keehner Park. 7-11 a.m. is reserved for Level 3 players.

  • Lefferson Park, 2145 S. Breiel Boulevard, Middletown

Lefferson offers 16 courts with access to water, restrooms and lights. Additional courts are planned. “There are always players there ready to play.” –Joel

  • Officer Bob Gentry Park, 105 Williams Avenue, Hamilton

With six dedicated pickleball courts, this park is a local favorite.

  • Harbin Park, 1300 Hunter Road, Fairfield

The eight courts of Harbin Park include a shade structure and seating for spectators. 

  • The Pickle Lodge, 7373 Kingsgate Way, West Chester

The Pickle Lodge hosts 17 indoor courts with plans to open outdoor courts this fall. It also houses a restaurant and bar. “My favorite place to play. It’s clean and organized with play for all levels.” –Krista

  • Sawyer Point, 815 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati

The 24 courts at Sawyer Point, including 18 dedicated solely to pickleball, are lighted and open until 10 p.m. “It’s next to the water and you’re in the fresh air and sunshine. There are leagues and open play available.” –Krista

Many thanks to The Pickle Lodge in West Chester for hosting the pickleball photo shoot. 

"Playing pickleball is a fun way to live an active, healthy lifestyle."

“It is a sport everyone can play. It doesn’t matter size or age. Everyone can play, and it’s easy to pick up.” -Joel Schmidt