Coggin Avenue Baptist Church pickleball featured on FOX News


Coggin Avenue Baptist Church and Jerry Don Gleaton were featured Thursday morning on the FOX & Friends national broadcast on FOX News in a segment entitled, “Church plays pickleball to spread gospel.”

Gleaton, a former Major League Baseball player who serves as Activities Director at Coggin Avenue Baptist, spoke with Thursday morning about how the FOX & Friends interview became a reality.

The only thing I can figure out is one of my UT buddies, we had a group text and he texted me asked what this was all about, and he showed me an article I did five or six months ago in a Baptist magazine,” Gleaton said. “I never thought more about it, but I guess they got it from that.”

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the segment aired, Gleaton received an unexpected phone call.

I got a call from an unlisted number and I usually don’t answer those,” Gleaton said. “Then they called back and actually sent a text and said it was FOX & Friends and to please call them. I called about 11 a.m. and they asked if I would be interested in doing a little spot for FOX & Friends in the morning. They wanted me to be in the Dallas office in 7:50 in the morning and I told them I was in Brownwood and three hours away. They asked about the closest big town and I told them Abilene, and that they had a FOX station. He called them and they couldn’t get a camera crew out so the decided to Skype it.

I’m computer illiterate so Hunter Carrier set it up and we did a walk through in the gym last night, but I still thought one of my buddies was playing the biggest hoax of my life. But I had about eight alarm clocks set this morning and got a hold of the lady who got it going and told her to make sure she had three people that wanted to play pickleball this morning. It all came together real quick.”

On FOX & Friends, Gleaton said of the pickleball craze at Coggin, “One of the ladies in our church came up with it and it never took off, and then one of the ladies in our senior line aerobics class said that we had a gym, so why not pickleball? We started with one court and then started moving things around and found out we could fit three courts in here, and then it really blew up. We went from about four or five players to 18 or 20.”

According to FOX & Friends, 13.6 million people reportedly played pickleball in the United States in 2023, which is up 223.5% since 2020, according to the broadcast.

A lot of the members play here, but there’s a lot of the community and little towns around us in about a 20-mile radius that drive over three days a week and play,” Gleaton said. “God’s really blessed this church and we want to use it to glorify Him. Our church has been so blessed and we have the facilities, we just try to help the community anyway we can. This thing went from one night a week to three days a week because everybody likes to play indoors in the cool. It’s a great atmosphere, a lot of fun, no stress, no competition. And for people who maybe don’t go to church, they can come here and possibly we can get them in the church doors.”

Asked his opinion of pickleball on FOX & Friends, Gleaton said, “I’m 66 and I’ll get out here if they’re short a person and they run me ragged. I still feel like I’m in pretty good shape for a man my age, but we have folks out here playing two and a half hours non-stop and I can’t compete with them and they’re my age or older. It’s a great activity and people love it. It’s gone crazy.”