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Pickleball closer to becoming State's official sport | Darn Wright

We have worldwide support to thank for this


Last updated 3/9/2022 at 12:15pm

Ever since my June 21, 2021, article “Sunnier time means pickleball time” ( hit the newsstand, I discussed my dream with 44th District Rep. John Lovick, now state Sen. Lovick. Even though he did not know anything about the sport, Lovick immediately liked the idea.

In fact, he went out and played a few games, and from then on he was an ardent supporter.

Lovick asked me to put together an advisory group to explore how we can get support to have pickleball our state’s sport. One person he suggested I contact was Kate Van-Gent, a pickleball enthusiast and a great organizer.

It was she who helped put together an Aug. 9 “Let’s make pickleball our state sport” meeting. One result of this meeting: We received not only statewide support, but also international support. One such international e-mail Lovick received came from a South Pole player! Interesting, to date he has not heard a word from any of the Clauses or their toymakers at the North Pole.

The first Senate pickleball hearing, via Zoom, was Jan.12, with an estimated 100 people registered as “just supporting SB 5615” and 10 other advocates speaking in front of Senator and Chair Sam Hunt’s five-member Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee (GTREC).

During that Senate hearing, Van-Gent counseled this august body. “Pickleball is played by over 5 million people worldwide ... 700 pickleball tournaments were held in the U.S. in 2021. Spokane is hosting the 2022 Pacific Northwest Regional Championship, a 900-player event.”

Various presenters, including me, advised the committee members that pickleball was the primary brainchild of three Washingtonians.

On Feb. 2, the pickleball bill passed out of the Senate committee, with all five members voting yes. It then went to the Rules Committee and, after this committee’s positive response, SB5615 went to the full Senate and it received 46 yes votes and 1 no.

SB5615 was then turned over to the House, where the bill received the heading of HB5615. Both Van-Gates and I gave our individual 90-second Zoom, testimonies Feb. 17.

My comments:

“It’s a privilege to be in front of you this morning to support House Bill 5615. I write for The Beacon, a local newspaper. In June of last year, I found out that our state does not have an official sport and, with this information, I then wrote about having pickleball as our state sport.

“I shared my article and idea with then Rep. John Lovick, and he immediately became interested in having pickleball, the fastest growing sport in the world, our state’s sport.

“Created on Bainbridge Island by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCullum, pickleball is now an international sport.

“What other worldwide sport can say it was born in the state of Washington? Pickleball is Washington and pickleball should be Washington’s official sport. Thank you for your interest in making it so.”

Van-Gate testified that “700 pickleball tournaments were hosted in the United States in 2021. Tournaments are held annually on Bainbridge Island, in Kirkland, Woodinville, Vancouver, Long Beach, Leavenworth, Ravensdale, Spokane, Chelan, Yakima, Walla Walla, Richland, Pullman, Shoreline, Liberty, and Lake Omak.

“The world’s first four pickleball companies are located in Washington. The world’s first pickleball governing body, USAPA, was launched in Washington. The world’s first pickleball rule sheets and booklets were created by Washingtonians. The world’s first composite pickleball paddle was invented in Washington. Washington is currently home to three pickleball manufacturing companies.”

These GTREC members passed it 5-2. The two Republicans who voted put themselves in a pickle. Literally right before their no vote, due to “is not a priority of government,” a Republican bill to officially – it is now our unofficial nickname – to make us the “Evergreen State,” those two no voters voted “yes” for their party’s priority of government bill.

It is interesting how hypocrisy is just a normal part of doing business in Olympia.

Darn right, WHEN Governor Jay Inslee signs SB5615 into law, you’ll probably hear us screaming, “We did it!”


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