Church starts hosting pickleball in Burrton

Trey Heneha returns a shot while playing pickleball at Burrton City Hall on Sunday afternoon. His father, Travis Heneha, right, has been organizing pickleball twice every week as an outreach ministry for Faith Community Bible Church.

By Jared Janzen

HALSTEAD—A church in Burrton has jumped on the bandwagon of one of the fastest-growing sports in the country.

Since the beginning of May, Faith Community Bible Church has been hosting pickleball twice a week. They play Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons at Burrton City Hall.

“It’s open to anybody in the community at any level,” Pastor Travis Heneha said. “It doesn’t cost them anything. We have all the equipment, so you just have to have time, and if you’ve never played, a willingness to learn.”

Heneha said the city auditorium makes a great place to play.

Justin Shank leans forward to make a play during pickleball.

“They’ve been gracious,” he said. “If it’s not occupied by somebody else, we’re able to use it.”

They’ve marked the court boundaries with painter’s tape, so it’s easy to remove if the room needs to be used for another purpose. With one court available, they can have four people play at a time, so people do need to take turns, depending on how many are there.

“I think the most we’ve had is nine,” Heneha said.

Some of the players have brought some pickleball experience, while others have come and played for the first time.

“Every once in a while we’ll have somebody come over who’s been playing longer than we have, which is nice,” he said.

They have several regulars, like Mark Silveous. He was basically new to the sport when the church started hosting pickleball.

“I had only been one time, kind of lobbing it back and forth,” he said. “I have to be careful, though, because I go all out. I’m finding out that I’m not going to get down to that 20-year-old ability.”

He noted that he won’t mind if the church started playing a third time each week.

“I’m not very good and I have a bad shoulder, but I’ve noticed that the exercise is really doing me good,” he said. “I golf all the time, but you just get out of the cart and walk over to your ball. This has really helped strengthen my back. There’ve been benefits to getting regular exercise.”

Also playing on Sunday afternoon was Justin Shank, who was there with his wife and daughter. He’s been coming regularly since the church started pickleball.

“I’ve played at the Y,” he said. “They had set it up for a short period of time, trying to get people involved, so I played there two or three times.”

He’s seen an improvement in his game the past couple weeks.

“Oh yes, definitely,” Shank said. “It’s fun to play, but I’m not like all-out.”

He pointed out that since they play indoors, they don’t have to worry about wind or other inclement weather.

Heneha’s sons, Trey and Nate, have also been coming regularly.

“The disadvantage to them is they still have 20-year-old reflexes,” Silveous said. “I just can’t react that fast.”

Travis Heneha said his family had starting getting into pickleball about a year ago while visiting family in Hoisington, where they’ve got two nice outdoor courts. From there, he began refining his skills with help from a friend, Dave Gustafson, who teaches pickleball in Hutchinson.

Mark Silveous keeps his eye on the ball while making a play.

“We took one of his classes and learned how to play the right way,” Heneha said with a laugh. “We had been playing off and on outside.” But a year ago while visiting family in Hoisington, where they’ve got two nice outdoor courts. From there, he began refining his skills with help from a friend, Dave Gustafson, who teaches pickleball in Hutchinson.

Heneha said the sport is a good activity for a wide age range, from your 20s to your 70s.

“To me, the way the game is set up, you can play at a young age or at an older age,” he said. “When we first started playing over in Hutch, there were ladies in their 50s and 60s, and they were good.”

Heneha said the church invested about $500 in pickleball paddles and a net, and since then costs are minimal since the city doesn’t charge them for the space.

“We wanted to be able to do it as a ministry to the community and just share it because it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

As for plans for the future, Heneha said if the turnout grows too big they could add another night, or they might start taking reservations. They don’t have room at city hall for a second court; Heneha mentioned an old tennis slab that could be converted to pickleball.

Heneha has been posting on Facebook each day they play since sometimes the times can vary. Generally, they play from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and 2-5 p.m. on Sundays.

“The Sunday one is the one that might fluctuate more than the Tuesday one,” he added.

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