Pickleball is becoming ubiquitous. The game that had its humble beginnings on our little rock back in the mid-1960s is becoming a national phenomenon seemingly overnight.
This past weekend, Parade Magazine, one of the country’s largest circulated periodicals, did a cover story on Pickleball, with references to Bainbridge Island, pictures of the founders and their families, and quotes from celebrities and sports stars, such as George Clooney, Matthew Perry and Chase Utley, who regularly play.
A few weeks back, the New Yorker (yes that one!) – the weekly bible of arts, culture and literature – did a deep dive into this growing past time. Over the last year, other national media outlets, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBS, have done stories or television segments on the sport, not to mention any number of local newspapers and magazines. If you’re a subscriber or regular follower of The Island Wanderer, then you know that Pickleball was recognized last spring as the “official sport” of the State of Washington.
So, why the sudden national obsession with the game? Bill Covert, an avid pickle-baller and board member of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (BIHM), thinks he might have the answer. “Everybody (who plays the game) is very welcoming,” he says. “The focus is as much on your comfort level, as feeling good about exercising.”
Covert, who is one of the chief organizers of this year’s Founders Tournament, says that besides the “social and welcoming” aspects of Pickleball, it allows for an “accessible form of exercise for so many people… It’s a sport anyone can play, (and) it’s a great couple’s game!”
The Founders Tournament will be held from August 8-August 14 at the Founders Courts at Battle Point Park. The multi-day event is a fundraiser for BIHM, the BI Metro Parks & Recreation District, and the island’s growing Pickleball community.
Among many other activities, the tourney will include clinics, a Wooden Paddle contest, doubles matches with the over 65 crowd, as well as a whole slew of contests involving men’s and women’s doubles play and mixed doubles games.
Bunches of other of interesting things are going on as well. The highlights include:
A Pickleball Clinic focusing on introducing the game to children and families will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday Aug. 11. It’s being put on by a handful of the tourney’s more skilled players. “If you know of interested families, please send them along,” says Covert.
Looking for a fun time with food and music? A benefit dinner will be held at the courts, beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 13. Noted keyboardist Steve Crampton and his Sockeye band will headline the night’s festivities. Crampton is not only a musician, but an avid Pickleball player as well. He will bring his popular dance band to the Park District’s Stage adjacent to Battle Point’s covered picnic area from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The music will coincide with the tournament’s dinner benefitting BIHM.
The dinner ($25 for adults and $8 for children), will be provided by popular West Sound caterer, Sauced, and is a significant fundraiser for the museum. Half the amount of every adult ticket ($12.50) goes directly to the museum. Dinner tickets, available now at tournament website (Founders Tournament website) and at the museum booth during tournament week, tickets are not required for the Sockeye performance, says Covert.
The tournament is expected to draw more than 400 players from 10 states and seven countries and involve more than 60 local volunteers “helping it run smoothly,” adds Covert. “Nobody can do this alone.”
The Founders Tournament got started several years back as a way for the museum to honor the legacy of Pickleball’s birthplace on Bainbridge Island in 1965, where as most of us know by now, three dad’s and their families came up with a unique activity to squelch their kids’ summertime boredom.
We’re sure no one back then ever dreamed that their little game would grow to be such an international sensation, with close to 4 million people playing across the globe!
Founders Tournament Schedule
August 8-9, 2022 – rise pickleball camps
Improve your skills during the pickleball camps. Register here.
August 10, 2022 – wooden paddle tournament, seniors
Play pickleball like it was originally played. Participants get a limited edition wooden paddle. After the wooden paddle tournament will be the senior’s mixed tournament.
August 11, 2022 – seniors
More senior’s play
August 12, 2022 – women’s
Women’s doubles tournament
August 13, 2022 – mixed doubles
Mixed doubles (other than seniors) tournament
August 13, 2022 – dinner
Join us for the tournament dinner. Buy your tickets here.
August 14, 2022 – men’s
Men’s doubles tournament
Some recent national stories on Pickleball:
New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/style/pickleball-sports.html
Sports Illustrated: https://www.si.com/tennis/2022/08/03/tennis-mailbag-pickleball-doubles-djokovic
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