Pickleball players on Whidbey Island can now enjoy Washington’s official state sport all year round.
The Roller Barn in Oak Harbor recently opened indoor pickleball courts – just one of the many new activities and events coming to the historic barn.
James Croft, owner of the Roller Barn since 2020, is updating and adding to the skating rink, which dates back to the 1950s. He noticed on Facebook that people in the community were looking for a place to play pickleball inside during the winter months. Because the skating rink is not used much during the day, he thought it would be perfect for pickleball. He was able to fit three separate courts on the rink, complete with nets.
Pickleball play is available from 5-8 p.m. Monday nights and 8-11 a.m. Saturday mornings, but hours may expand as demand grows. Updated hours can be found at therollerbarn.com/pickleball. People can reserve the courts during off times as well. It costs $10 for a three-hour session and paddles are available to rent for $5. There are monthly memberships available at $30 per person and $50 per couple for unlimited play.
Pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island in the 1960s. Croft played the sport growing up when he went on camping trips with his family and was excited to rediscover it as an adult. Pickleball is played on a smaller court than tennis and involves less running.
The indoor courts are great for beginners and those just learning how to play, Croft said.
The addition of the courts is all in an effort to diversify activities at the Roller Barn.
“Unfortunately, skating is cyclical,” Croft said.
Throughout history, roller skating has peaked in popularity before declining again, he explained. He said it’s on a “mid-high” right now, after a boom in popularity during the height of the pandemic.
“It hasn’t dropped too much yet, but we know that that’s coming,” he said.
The barn has laser tag in the basement on Fridays and Saturdays. A retro arcade is set to open in the basement in mid-April. The barn’s haunted house, which happens every autumn, will grow by 2,000 square feet this year. A wrestling match in the barn is slated for August.
In addition, the barn has been hosting concerts on the roller rink for about a year now. The concerts take place during open skate and the bands play in the center of the rink.
“It’s very unusual,” Croft said, adding that both the bands and skaters enjoy it.
There is typically one concert a month. More details can be found on the roller barn’s Facebook page. The shows are all ages and no alcohol is served, although parental advisory is recommended for possibly explicit lyrics. Ear plugs are available to buy if it gets too loud.
The historic barn is now 111 years old.