ssi history

the history of ssi pickleball club

remembering our roots

SSI Pickleball Club was founded in 2022 as the first Non Profit 501 C (3) organization dedicated to the sport of pickleball on St. Simons Island, GA.
Charlie Crawley introduced pickleball to SSI back in June of 2014.  After great acceptance by the residents of SSI, Charlie convinced the Parks & Recreation to have two tennis courts at Epworth striped for pickleball play. It wasn't until August of 2015 that the pickleball lines were added to the tennis courts at Mallery Park. Pickleball kept growing fast and eventually two more tennis courts at Epworth were striped for pickleball (March 2017). This naturally angered the tennis community as their courts were being used for pickleball. But even this was not enough to satisfy the demand for more pickleball courts. Wait times at both parks grew longer and longer. Visitors to the island grew the demand even further. Finally in June of 2019 six new and dedicated pickleball court were authorized. However, COVID 19 delayed construction and ultimately only four courts were built within the budget allocated . At the same time all the tennis courts at Epworth were restriped for tennis only, so the net gain of available pickleball courts was zero. The new official pickleball courts only increased the demand as more and more visitors came to the island just to play pickleball. Wait time only increased.
When Charlie retired Bill Carmichael and Mary Kline replaced Charlie as the SSI Pickleball Ambassadors. Under their leadership pickleball has grown even stronger.


Ssi Pickleball origin stories

My pickleball story on St. Simons Island  began about ten years ago. We were visiting our daughter who lives on the island. We were staying about a month in our RV at Blythe Island Campground. Discovering that pickleball was played at Mallery Park, I soon found myself playing every day. Of course, Charlie Crawley made me feel at home then and every time we visited over the next several years.

I remember one year when we returned Suzi Hassel remembered me and gave me a gentle hug and said "Welcome back". Her cold nose on my cheek warmed my heart in ways I can never explain. The following Christmas season I began to truly understand the value of SSI pickleball. We were staying the winter again on Blythe Island when Judy Matte invited Dianne and I to their Christmas Party...another heart warming event. The following year Teresa Hodgdon invited us to her pickleball Christmas Party.

Soon we felt like family, the greatest gift anyone can bestow to another. Since I have moved here, I see this comradery and acceptance of everyone every day by every pickleball player to one another and especially to visitors who come to our courts. Each of you are truly ambassadors to SSI and the sport of Pickleball. To all of you who encourage me, put up with me, and teach me I am forever thankful. My history would not be complete without acknowledging the work Bill Carmichael and Mary Semmelmayer have done to expand pickleball and the work started by Charlie Crawley.

- David Neville (2022)

You Are Invited To The Facebook Group

Whether you are a beginner, a pro or just want to stay in the know you are welcome in our free St. Simons Island Pickleball Facebook Group.
Official Facebook Group