CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — One sport is growing in popularity, and it’s something you may have played during high school PE class. 


Don Block, who plays often in Champaign, said about 400 people regularly play in the Champaign area. He considers many of them part of his “pickleball family.” 

The Champaign Park District just added eight new courts to the park behind Centennial High School at John and Kenwood. 

“The courts are individually fenced, they have walkways for people to hang out in between games, there’s good spacing on the courts themselves, they’re not tennis courts converted to pickleball,” Block said. “They’re built for pickleball. They’ve designed it for safety and play.”

The courts were closed most of Thursday for re-sealing but reopened by 3 p.m.

Block has been playing pickleball for eight years, and now he volunteers to teach classes.

Right now, pickleball classes meet Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Leonhard Recreation Center. Cody Flowers, the Park District’s sport coordinator, teaches the classes with volunteers like Block. 

“We’re working on serves, we’re working on third shot drops, explaining how to play the game of pickleball,” he said. “Go over the rules, how to hold your paddle, how to hit the ball correctly. Basically, just real basics, fundamentals to start with.”

Flowers said they plan to add more classes at the new outdoor courts in the future. 

For more information or to sign up for classes, visit the Champaign Park District’s website.