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Jenny Van Winkle used her Innovation Grant to support the installation of a sports court in Williams.

Out in the country, the last thing we want to do is “pave paradise.” We love our open fields meandering dirt roads.  But when it comes to roller skating, riding a bike, shooting hoops or playing pickleball, a little patch of pavement is good thing.

That’s why Applegate resident Jenny Van Winkle and her husband, Bryan Hunter applied for an Innovation Grant from A Greater Applegate to help install a sports court in Williams. The Sugarloaf Community Association Sports Court accommodates multiple uses and has an ideal location: Between the Community Center and the site of the new library. The court not only expands the community’s repertoire of public spaces, but also makes it easy for the three organizations to collaborate together.

The Sports Court was a slam dunk for the Innovation grant. The resource fits perfectly into The Applegate Valley Vision, the 86-page resident-inspired document that lays out hopes for the Applegate. At the Vision listening sessions conducted throughout the valley in 2019-2020, a reoccurring wish was to expand the Applegate Valley’s outdoor recreation opportunities. The court also meets the desire for more shared spaces “to enhance community connections” and falls under the “Steward & Sustain” section of the Vision.

Even in its early stages, the sports court is achieving that:

“It’s a mix of a social hang out to watch or a place to or play.” Van Winkle says. “It’s been very popular. There is no other sports court available.”

Aside from the $1000 Innovation Grant, there was a lot of financial support from the local community to reach the $27,000 needed to complete the initial install. “There were tons of in-kind donations from business and individuals and many volunteer hours,” Van Winkle says.

The impact has been overwhelmingly positive for all ages groups from a young crew of kids that love basketball to older people who play shuffleboard there.

“An elder told me she’s going down and playing pickleball several times a week,” Van Winkle says. “She said wasn’t doing anything like that before.”

This article is part of a series showcasing community projects that received funding from A Greater Applegate’s Innovation Grant Program.

The 2023 Innovation Grant Applications are available now and due Sept. 8th! Click here for guidelines and the application.