Almost 400 people from around the country have registered for the 2nd Annual Bainbridge Island Founders Pickleball Tournament Aug. 12-15 at Battle Point Park.
The event is a fund-raiser for the BI Historical Museum.
Brianna Kosowitz, museum executive director, said they decided on a pickleball tourney because the game was invented here.
“Our staff started noticing more and more people stopping by the museum to ask about pickleball,” she said. “These visitors were coming to Bainbridge from around the country solely to visit the place where their favorite game was invented. Their enthusiasm was contagious for all of us.”
Pickleball was founded on Bainbridge in 1965 by three Islanders—Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum. Over the years, the Historical Museum has worked to document, collect and share the history of these three inventors and the sport through exhibits and programs.
Kosowitz said when she started with the museum in 2018, “We wanted to create fundraisers that were fun with more energy, history and community. An annual pickleball tournament seemed like the perfect way to tie all of that in together.”
The inaugural tourney two years ago had about 270 players, about half of whom traveled over 50 miles to attend. There were players from 14 states and two from Canadian provinces. Last year’s tourney was canceled due to COVID-19.
Kosowitz said the tourney grew so much this year as, “Pickleball players who attended our inaugural tournament have helped spread the word because they had such a great time. We also attribute our success largely to our growing partnership with the local pickleball club here on Bainbridge Island and the parks district.”
Along with spreading the word, she said club members have been helpful with planning and volunteering for the tourney, serving as trained referees, along with helping with scoring and registration. She also said the club raised money and worked with the park district on the new courts at Battle Point Park.
To show their appreciation for their help, 30% of registration proceeds from the tournament will go to parks to support the local club and courts. The remaining 70% will go to the museum.
As for the tournament itself, the Wooden Paddle Classic Tournament will start things off Aug. 12 with Women’s Doubles Aug. 13, Mixed Doubles Aug. 14 and Men’s Doubles Aug. 15. Matches are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except for the opening day, which ends at 3:30 p.m. Registration has ended.
Age groups are 8-49, 50-64 and 65-99. Skill levels range from 2.5 to 4.5. Medals will be awarded to the top three teams in each category. The Founders Tournament BBQ Dinner is set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 14. Cost is $25. Matches will be played at Founders Courts at the park at 11299 Arrow Point Dr. NE.
Also sold out is a RISE Pickleball Camp for 32 participants from Aug. 9-11.
The tournament is sanctioned by the National Pickleball Association. Some professionals also will be on hand – up to 16 compared with just a few in 2019.