Eight permanent pickleball courts opened in Marine Park on Memorial Day, but the official ribbon-cutting with NYC Parks took place on Thursday, August 10th, amid a large group of pickleball lovers, community advocates and elected officials, all who were there to celebrate a momentous occasion, four years in the making!
It’s all thanks to the persistence of the Marine Park Pickleball Club’s co-founders, Bob Spieler and Michael Chaiet, along with Aggie Smith, who advocated tirelessly for the courts. The club was founded in 2019 with a handful of members and has grown to over 1,000 people, as the pickleball craze continues to grow in popularity all across the country.
Spieler, affectionately known as “Pickleball Bob,” reached out to elected officials on countless occasions at a time when people didn’t even know what pickleball was. Now, he’s proud to say that the Marine Park Pickleball Club is the first outdoor pickleball club in Brooklyn.
Marty Maher, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner, NYC Parks, officiated at the ribbon-cutting, telling the large crowd, “You are very lucky you have elected officials, and a great community board, that care about parks.”
“In my office, I have an orange phone, a red phone and a purple phone. One said Aggie Smith, one says Mike Chaiet and one says Bob Spieler. I get to unplug those finally!” And, when he announced that there are four more courts coming, attendees erupted into loud applause.
Millennium Development’s Executive Director Paul Curiale, an avid player himself, was also instrumental in bringing the courts to Marine Park. Maher told the group, “There’s one phone I don’t get to disconnect, and that’s Paul. He’s not just an advocate for pickleball; he’s an advocate for all sports.”
Chaiet said when the club was started, “We had trouble even getting five or six people to play, but it slowly caught on. We played at multiple sites, at Dr. John’s Playground on cracked courts, carrying our nets and putting lines down.” Smith shared that when she took a fall at Dr. John’s and broke her foot, she called Curiale who then called Maher, who promised the courts.
Through perseverance, one of the 15 tennis courts in Marine Park was converted into four temporary pickleball courts. Eventually, eight new permanent courts were built and celebrated last week.
Spieler said he wants Marine Park to be “the mecca for pickleball for all of New York.” And Chaiet says, “We need more courts! We are growing beyond what we can handle.”
Now, that’s persistence!