Cat-Tales Article in August 2023 Edition: St. James Pickleball

Pickleball in St James….In the beginning
The short story, is our St. James resident Fred Ammann and a small group of residents started playing pickleball over on Oak Island in 2015. By spring of 2016, at Fred’s suggestion, Troon management reappointed the tennis hitting wall space at Seaside into two pickleball courts.

St. James Plantation is no exception to the popularity of pickleball. In the Spring of 2018 Cindy Hettinger and a group of pickleball enthusiasts quickly signed up 277 people who were interested in pickleball. Today, our St. James Pickleball Association (SJPA) has over 570 (updated since the article) and is still growing for 2023.

Our Growth…
After many growing pains, we now have eight beautiful, lighted courts at the Greg Rymer Memorial Pickleball Courts and the two courts at the Seaside Wellness Center available for Sport and Golf members.

The SJPA volunteers run an event once a month called: New To Pickleball. This clinic teaches the basics of the game from serve to volley and dinking.

In September of 2020 our first president, Scott Hettinger, contacted Al Hausmann to create a logo, develop a website and an SJPA facebook page. SJPA website is an active, up-to-date, interactive website hosting all communications, events, socials, pictures, and external pickleball news. Alerts are sent out to all members regarding SJPA projects:

  • Invitations to parties and social events, including our annual holiday party.
  • Tournaments.
  • Leagues.
  • Round robins.
  • Ladders.
  • On-court and social events.
  • SJPA sends notifications about local pickleball events and camps.

 Events for local charities:

  • Winter Dance featuring The Salty Dawgs raised $3325 to benefit Matthew’s Ministry.
  • Our Social Committee ran our 2nd Annual Spring Fling (music festival) raising $4309 for the Southport Oak Island Interchurch Fellowship Food Pantry (SOIIFFP).
  • Make a Wish Social Fundraiser.
  • We are providing volunteers and donating paddles for a summer camp for under-served kids in Brunswick County.
  • Sneaker drive collected over 1,100 pairs of sneakers which converted into nearly $1000 for Waves 4 K.I.D.S.
  • Our Sunshine Committee provides a little sunshine to SJPA members who’ve experienced an illness, injury, or loss of an immediate family member. They also sponsor food drives at many of our events to benefit SOIIFFP.

SJPA Board of Directors is our advocate and directly represents our members with the Clubs At St. James management (Troon).  

Our current board consists of: Deb Chiarello, and George Johnson, Kathy McArthur, Mary Heatherly, Al Hausmann, Jeff Franken, and Liz Wilson.

Membership and Benefits: A SJPA membership costs only $20 / year per person. Social events: pool parties, progressive dinner, beach parties, and more.

  • Organized on-court social events, fundraisers, round robins, tournaments, and leagues.
  • Beginner pickleball instructional play.
  • Other opportunities to mix and mingle with fellow SJPA members.
  • Direct communication with our club owners, Troon, via the Sports Advisory Committee, where the SJPA continues to advocate for improvements, expansion, programming, etc. on behalf of our membership.