Middletown – Pickleball Capital of Ohio

Middletown – Pickleball Capitol of Ohio

Middletown loves pickleball, and based on the claim they made in the local newspaper, their town has the most pickleball courts in the entire state: 16 total with 2 more on the way. (This is one more than Mentor, OH.)

With plenty of volunteer and community support for the game, the Middletown Community Fund gave the association a $1,500 grant last year to aid in expanding the courts, said Traci Barnett, executive director.

The association hosted the 12th annual Middletown Senior Pickleball Tournament on August 1-3. Open-aged singles played first followed by senior players (50 and older) playing doubles and mixed doubles.

The tournament had a record 268 registered players from eight states. Five years ago, the tournament drew 112 players.

Are there more “Pickleball Capitals” out there? Let’s start a “Bragging Rights” post.

Is your town the pickleball capital of your state? Tell us why.

Pro-Am Teams Up Top Players with Amateurs for Charity

About a week ago, pickleball champion Jennifer Lucore added an exciting post to her blog regarding Pro-Am fundraisers. This is a concept we’d love to see spread as more groups learn about the concept. If you haven’t heard about these interesting opportunities, it may be something worth suggesting at your own local pickleball club.

The Pro-Am fundraiser Jennifer recently discussed took place at the Bobby Riggs Tennis & Pickleball Center in CA (where you can enjoy several PickleballTournaments Training Camps) to raise money for PTSD. The idea pairs up professional players with amateurs depending on who “purchases” them first.

Several pros were claimed online before the event, and those remaining were auctioned off beforehand. Many pros went for $800 – 1000, so it was heartening to see players come together to compete and support a great cause.

Pro-Am Picklers

Pro-Am Teams (Credit: Roby Partovich)

The California-based fundraiser was specifically in honor of Erich Schuette, pickleball partner to the organizer Jeff Donovan. While Erich had a supportive family and won gold with Jeff at the Utah State pickleball championships, he also suffered from PTSD as a veteran and took his life several months afterwards.

Jeff has continued to raise awareness about the pain this disorder can cause since Sept 2016. He has currently contributed over $77,500 to charities like Continue Mission and is still going strong!

The event at the Bobby Riggs Center included training and mingling with the pros, food, the competition itself, and later a silent auction for pickleball gear. For those who couldn’t afford to “buy” a pro themselves, there were still opportunities to listen to their strategies and spend time with the visitors before the tournament.

It sounds like it was an enjoyable day for all, and a wonderful way to give newer picklers a chance to play with athletes they’d normally only see at 5.0 tournaments! If you’re in the mood for a little event organizing and have a cause in mind, give it a shot within your own group.

You can check out the structure of Jeff’s Pro-Am fundraiser here. If you end up starting your own and want it covered, feel free to give us a shout at info@pickleballcentral.com.

 

 

 

Tournament Tips: Fundraising Tournaments, The Pink and Dink Tournament

Susie Brumfield is a tournament director for the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club, located in Penn Valley, California. During her time as a tournament director, she learned a few key things about how to run a tournament for a local charity. She was kind enough to share some of that knowledge here.

What is the name of your tournament?

The last one we did was called the Pink and Dink Tournament, which was huge! We came up with the name for breast cancer/pink in October and dink shots in pickleball.

Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?

We’re the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club. It was just a small group (when I started). We had about 12 people and two courts. Now we have 185 members! We’re a big pickleball family. Everyone’s friends. It’s fun to get out and play and have tournaments during the year.

Pickleball Gals at the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

When was your tournament?

The tournament took place on October 1, 2016.

Where was your tournament?

It took place at Lake Wildwood Commodore Park, Lake Wildwood, California.

How many players registered for the tournament?

We had lots of people. Over 55 teams entered which amounted to about 110 players.

What events/brackets did you offer?

We had a woman’s team, a men’s team and mixed doubles. And we did it all in one day!

Tournament action on the courts

Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?

Yes. We had 12 people. I had a wonderful team. Whenever you needed something, before you finished asking, it was done. The people were enthusiastic.

I had a to-do list for volunteers posted on the tournament day. So when the volunteers came in, they divvied it up. It just got done. Some of the tasks included:

  • Emcee – Make sure they have a timeline of events so they know what’s going on.
  • Publicity – Have someone in charge of brochures, social media, signs and contacting local businesses.
  • Gift Bagger – We had a gift bag and goodie stuffing party. We wrote thank you notes. We had someone making trophies. PickleballCentral was great. They gave us bags. “
  • Silent Auction/Raffle Coordinator – We solicited items for this. Independent people in your local area are more generous.
  • Scheduling – I had everything on an Excel sheet. Who was playing who and when.

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?

We went around to the banks, grocery stores, and movie theaters. The local hamburger store SPD Market supplied all of our hamburgers, chips, foods, granola bars, bananas and coffee. The whole thing!

For the silent auction, some of the vineyards around here gave a private tasting for eight people. And some of the restaurants gave coupons. The movie theater gave a little package with popcorn and all that stuff.

Trophies for the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

Was the tournament a fund-raising event? For what charity or cause? How much did you raise?

The money went to the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation to support their fight against breast cancer. We raised $6,800. It was pretty  good for our first time. We were really pleased.

Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?

In the morning we provided coffee, juice, water, bananas, granola bars, and grapes. We also had goodie bags loaded with visors with Lake Wildwood logo, Chapstick, water, discount coupons for PickleballCentral and miscellaneous items donated by local businesses.

Did you charge a registration fee? How much?

We charged $35 each or $60 if you played in two categories; i.e. men’s or women’s singles and mixed doubles. The fee included a choice of burger or veggie burger, chips, soda or water and a cookie. 100% of the proceeds went to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Anything special or unique about your tournament?

PickleballCentral gave us the All Heart Award!

Trophies were awarded and we also gave away several nice paddles that were provided by pickleball manufacturers. The trophies were hand-made and consisted of a fake pickle inside a mason jar with pickleballs on top. It was cute!

We did a “dinking game” at the beginning of each game during the tournament . The game ended at 5 points. It helped people remember to dink and gave them a little bit of practice as well. A trophy was awarded to the overall dinking game winners.

All In Good Fun!

We also had a “swear jar” where every time someone said a bad word on the court leading up to the tournament, they were charged $0.25. Nobody could keep track, so everybody pitched in $2 or so at the beginning of the tournament.

What is your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?

We had a lot of teams; doing it all in one day was too much. Something we would do in the future is to split the tournament into two days.

I would also have a point-of-contact person so people who know where to go after they finished playing their game. There should be a central place for them to figure out which court to go to next.

Any parting advice?

Just a reminder that “thank you’s” to sponsors go a long way. We made them a priority.

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: The Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club, Penn Valley, California

PickleballCentral likes to acknowledge pickleball clubs who give back to the community. We extend our appreciation and our All Heart Award to the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club for their efforts to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness month.i-love-pickleball1

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On October 1, 2016 the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club supported the fight against breast cancer with their 1st Annual “Go Pink & Dink” Pickleball Tournament.

Trophies for the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

Trophies for the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

 Aren't these awards adorable?

Aren’t these awards adorable?

 

Tournament action on the courts

Tournament action on the courts

They had 55 teams enter, and raised over $6800 for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Barna and Colleen Coke, 1st Place, Mixed Doubles

Barna and Colleen Coke, 1st Place, Mixed Doubles

 

Pickleball Gals at the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

Pickleball Gals at the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

All In Good Fun!

All In Good Fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

100% of the proceeds went to support the Breast Imaging Center at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley, CA. This organization has the recognition of being in the top five centers of excellence for breast cancer treatment in the nation!

Kimberly Parker speaking to the Go Pink and Dink tournament participants.

Kimberly Parker speaking to the Go Pink and Dink tournament participants.

Kimberly Parker, from the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, was presented with the amount the club raised.  She was amazed!

Presentation of the Breast Cancer Awareness check to Kimberly Parker

Presentation of the Breast Cancer Awareness check to Kimberly Parker

Everybody wins at this kind of event. They plan to expand the tournament to 2 days next year. Thank you, Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club, for reaching out to your community in such a fun and rewarding way.

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Pioneer Park Pickleball Courts in Walla Walla, Washington

You have to love anyone who has a heart for pickleball.  And there are some really great people in Walla Walla, Washington who came up with the idea for outdoor pickleball courts that could be available to the whole community.

Nancy Kress, Ted Cummings, Dave Gibson

Ted Cummings, Nancy Kress and Dave Gibson

Ted Cummings is a retired school teacher who taught racquet sports at Walla Walla High School for 5 years (tennis, badminton & pickleball).  He is one of 3 key people who spearheaded the community interest in having dedicated pickleball courts in Walla Walla, Washington. His key project planning team members included Dave Gibson and Nancy Kress.

 Pickleball Training at the YMCA - Ted Cummings, Susan Anfinson and Dave Gibson

Pickleball Training at the YMCA – Ted Cummings, Susan Anfinson and Dave Gibson. Cool Sweatshirts!

In August of 2014, Ted pitched Dave on the idea that pickleball courts needed to become a reality for adults and children to play pickleball outdoors.  Dave threw in the first donation and they were off spreading the word about how new pickleball courts could improve the community.  Nancy had the grant writing experience and community connections.  This small team got the community excited about pickleball.

Pioneer park design

The best design in the country!

The Sherwood Trust gave them a grant in the amount of $57.000 for community improvement and fitness.  In five months, the pickleball community raised $130.000.

Nancy Kress consults with Eagle Fence owners RaeJean and Tom

Nancy Kress consults with Eagle Fence owners RaeJean and Tom

The design was drawn up and construction began.

Nancy and her laser thermometer

Nancy and her laser thermometer

Pioneer Park laying asphalt

Pioneer Park laying asphalt

 

 

 

 

 

It took 4 inches of gravel, 3 inches of asphalt, multiple layers of paint.

Volunteers at work

Volunteers at work

They had their opening ceremonies on November 5, 2015 and are already planning their first tournament for the weekend of July 22nd, 2016.

Pioneer Park dedication

Pioneer Park Pickleball Court Dedication Ceremony

They have dedicated the courts to the Parks and Rec of Walla Walla.

Fall Pickleball at Pioneer Park

Fall Pickleball at Pioneer Park

They have a core group of about 35 people who get together every week to play pickleball.  They have a schedule for intermediate and advanced players.They’ll be offering clinics for adults this month and will offer clinics for kids in the late spring and summer.  It will be a cool addition to the summer sports programs of soccer and tennis already offered.

There is an awesome brass plaque installed on the gate number one that thanks all the main donors.

Pioneer Park Plaque

Pioneer Park Pickleball Courts Plaque

Dave, Ted and Nancy consider it one of their greatest accomplishments to offer volunteer hours to improve their community.  Together they put in 900 hours into planning, presentations, grant writing and seeking donors.  They put time into promotional shirt distribution and they supervised onsite contractors, net and windscreen installation and leaf-blowing projects.  I’d say it was a job well done!  Congratulations to you all and to your community for their support!

Dave, Ted and Nancy with dog

Dave, Ted and Nancy taking a well earned rest break

Pickleball Central All Heart Award – Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers

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We all love a great story about how pickleball clubs help out the community.  Today, we are awarding the Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers the PickleballCentral All Heart Award.  Deb Richter provides the background to their philanthropic efforts. Enjoy!

Mountain Picklers courts

Connestee Falls, an incredible community nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, is surrounded by the natural beauty of national, state and county parks, over 250 waterfalls, the Blue Ridge Parkway, mountain biking, oh, and did I mention PICKLEBALL!  Our community converted an orphan tennis court into 4 dedicated pickleball courts and we have a thriving pickleball community, totally supported by our Property Owners Association!  As they say, “If you build it, they will come.”

Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers

Tournament Participants – Photo Courtesy of The Transylvania Times, Dec. 24, 2015, Vol.129, No.103

Connestee Falls was started in 1970, and for the past 27 years, we have given back to our county by sponsoring the Connestee Falls Scholarship Program.  This program started as a golf Pro-Am and the monies raised were given to the local high schools and colleges for scholarships.  When pickleball came on the scene, as our ambassador, I wanted to grow the level of play in the area and tap into the generosity of our residents.  In 2011, we ran our first Scholarship Fund Tournament and raised about $3500.  Since then, we have had a tournament every year, and have raised over $30,000 for the youth of our county.  That, combined with the other efforts in our community, has given 27 people a chance to go to college this year alone,  We raised over $75,000 as a community this year and more than $650,000 over the past 27 years.

Mountain Picklers

The Connestee Falls Mountain Picklers www.carolinapickleball.com  are very proud of this program and will continue to sponsor the tournament as long as we have players.  This coming year, we are considering expanding the venue, utilizing our tennis courts, and in the event of rain, Brevard College, our Recreation center and the local racquet club have offered facilities.  We thank PickleballCentral for their support this past year, giving us raffle items for the tournament and hope to have them on board this next year, supporting us support kids going to college.

Mountain Picklers players

Pickleball players George Vickery, Eric Ostrec, Ron Kiviniemi and Buck Baker enjoy a competitive contest earlier this year at Connestee Falls – Photo Courtesy of The Transylvania Times, Dec. 24, 2015, Vol.129, No.103

PS I am starting a youth program at the boys and girls club and will be running a multi-generational tournament/playday the week after Easter this spring.

Thank you, Deb, for sharing some of your club’s story supporting your community!  Congratulations! 

 

 

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Ken Marquardt and the Apex Parks and Recreation of Arvada, Colorado

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Women's Doubles at Apex Center in Arvada Colorado Photo Credit: CBSDENVER

Women’s Doubles at Apex Center in Arvada Colorado Photo Credit: CBSDENVER

It takes a village to raise funds for a worthy cause, right?  In Arvada, Colorado, you start with Ken Marquardt, USAPA Pickleball Ambassador, a man who usually doesn’t take “no” for an answer.  Then add 250 pickleball fans and a few folks at Apex Parks and Rec. who all have a heart for our wounded veterans, and what do you get?  A successful tournament that raises funds for the Traumatic Brain Injury Freedom program!  What a great story!

Eagle donated by Sharon and Ken Marquardt at the Outdoor Courts at Apex Center

Eagle donated by Sharon and Ken Marquardt at the Outdoor Courts at Apex Center

Ken got together with Mike Miles, Executive Director of the Apex Center in Arvada, Colorado to toss around the idea of having a tournament fundraiser to support wounded veterans.  They looked around for an organization to support and decided on the Rocky Mountain Human Services Operation TBI Freedom, because 100% of the funds go to support veterans.  Other organizations take 30-60% for administrative costs.  Once the recipient was selected, a number of meetings took place with some local tournament experts, and voila, there was a tournament planned and 250 participants signed up.

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They spread the word about the tournament: “Our community stands behind all the veterans for their service and sacrifice. They put their lives on the line every day for our nation, and to honor and recognize that dedication, there’s a unique opportunity coming up for you to personally help a Colorado vet.  One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Operation TBI Freedom, a privately funded program of Rocky Mountain Human Services, assisting veterans and active duty military personnel with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that occurred on or after September 11, 2001.”

The Pickleball for Heroes tournament began with a 30-minute opening ceremony, open to the public.  A bagpiper entered the pavilion playing “Amazing Grace”.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  The Marine Corps Honor Guard presented the flag, and Debi Blair, who sang with Bob Hope years ago, sang the national anthem.

Marine Honor Guard at the Pickleball for Heroes Tournament

Marine Honor Guard at the Pickleball for Heroes Tournament

The games began and everyone had a great time!  They had a range of players from 3.0-5.0. This “village”raised $43,861.00 for Operation Traumatic Brain Injury Freedom, a tremendous cause.

TBI Check Presentation

TBI Check Presentation

Congratulations, Ken Marquardt and the Arvada Pickleballers!  You definitely have a “Heart” for your community!

Check out the Arvada Press Article: Pickleball Goal is to Help Veterans

PickleballCentral All Heart Award: The Pickleball North Club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

 

I love pickleball!

Ross Community Center pickleball


Andy McLaren, 66, of Brighton Heights plays pickleball against Barb Adams, 72, of Ross, at the Ross Community Center

Every time we hear about a group that loves to play with a purpose, like raising money for a local food bank, we try to find out the back story.  So when Pam Block emailed PickleballCentral for some support for their tournament last month, we contacted her and got the Pickleball North story.  Enjoy reading about our newest All Heart Pickleball Award Winner!

The Pickleball North Pickleball Club in Pittsburgh, PA, has 140 people on their email list. They started with about 5 players in February, 2012. The group started playing in a local church and were given lessons by a teaching tennis pro. The oldest member, Ralph Young played all the time, even the week before he died.  He was 86 years old.  Pam Block is a former tennis player.  She was invited to play the first time in April of that same year.   Most members are retired, except her son, who plays when he visits from Washington, DC.  Pam’s motto is:  “When it stops being fun, I’m done!”

Pam is a pickleball scheduler for the club.  She emails a weekly play schedule out to the membership.  They play at a community center and 2 – 3 churches.   They are growing pickleball and helping the community.  That’s what sets their club apart.  They are a welcoming and caring group.  The fourth bi-annual tournament was held this year on October 28th.  It was a fun day with lots of fun competition.  This last tournament was sponsored by PickleballCentral and Gamma Sports.  Thrivent Financial also gave them a grant of $250 that was used to buy lunch for participants and for the purchase of the tournament balls.  Pam once received a jar of pickles as a grand prize, so that has become a Pickleball North tradition.  They could have bought better prizes, but people preferred the money go to the Food Bank.  

Pickleball North

Pickleball North Pickleball Club

The Pickleball North Pickleball Club usually has two tournaments a year and the proceeds go to the North Hills Food Bank.  They started in Spring of 2014.  They have had 4 tournaments so far, and have collected $2,500 for the North Hills Food Bank.  The North Hills Food Bank serves over 200 people a month and has been doing it for over 25 years.  Most of the clients of the Food Bank live in Ross Township or in the town of Westview. Fees collected at the tournament go to the food bank.   They play at the Ross Township Community Center.  It is the biggest location and they are gracious and accommodating.  They asked to use the facility for their tournament and the community center waived the use fee, so everything collected during the tournament goes to the food bank.

The Pickleball North Pickleball Club grows by word of mouth, by invitation and through advertising.  The Pittsburg Tribune Review has run a couple of articles about pickleball in Pittsburgh:

http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoodsmore/8993977-74/pickleball-tennis-sport#ixzz3p4L3KUKp

Keep up the good “heart” work, Pickleball North!  We look forward to hearing more good news about your community service next year!

 

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Central’s Angels

I love pickleball decal

Have a Heart?  You bet!  The pickleball club Central’s Angels definitely has a heart for those who are in need.  We found out about their service work to the community when they ordered their club t-shirts from PickleballCentral. I spoke with Lee Bergen, and this is what Lee had to say about Central’s Angels:

The pickleball players of Central United Methodist Church are typical players , with one exception:  we play for a cause, and in a very small way we are helping to fight hunger in Atlantic City. We play three mornings a week in the Central Methodist Church Recreation Hall in Linwood, New Jersey.  We all enjoy the game and each other’s company.  Since we only have one court, we spend as much time talking as we do playing.  We are fortunate, as seniors, to be happy, healthy and still in the game.

Last year we felt a little guilty about having so much fun, when less then 10 miles away in Atlantic City there were so many hungry and homeless people.  About that same time our church took on the responsibility of making 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every month for Sister Jean’s Kitchen, which provides lunch for the homeless and poor on weekdays in Atlantic City.  The kitchen is closed on weekends, so the sandwiches help folks out until the next Monday rolls around.  We jumped on the chance to be involved.

Pickleball Angels and the peanut butter collection jar

Pickleball Angels and the peanut butter collection jar

We began donating when we play, putting the money in a peanut butter jar we kept handy.  Throwing in a buck or two regularly is a small price to pay for the enjoyment we get out of the game.  Then we show up every month to help make and bag the sandwiches. When one of the members of the congregation called us pickleball angels, we adopted the name.  We then had t-shirts made to show off our new name.

Here comes the jelly!

Here comes the jelly!

 

Filling Sandwich bags Centrals angels

Central’s Angels filling sandwich bags

It's OK to be in THIS KITCHEN!

It’s OK to be in THIS KITCHEN!

 In May we completed our first year with a total of $1037.00 donated to the cause.  We are in our second year and have made over 5000 sandwiches.   Central’s Angels also does service in the church like changing  light bulbs, setting up tables and waxing floors.  

Central's Angels Pickleball Club

Central’s Angels Pickleball Club

Pickleball is not only good for the body. but with a cause it’s good for the soul as well.  There are hundreds probably thousands of groups like ours playing throughout this country. Think of all the good that could be accomplished if we all found a cause to play for and support.  I would love to hear from you if any of you like this idea and put it into practice.  Lee Bergen

Thank you, Lee, for being willing to share your story with our readers!

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Cascade Pickleball Club, Vancouver, Washington

PICKLEBALLCENTRAL “ALL HEART” AWARD: CASCADE PICKLEBALL CLUB, VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON

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I was looking at the USAPA.org website, Places to Play and came across this listing:

The Cascade library runs open gym pickleball on Sunday nights as a fundraiser for our library. Players of all levels are welcome!  We start at 6 PM and end by 9PM. The cost is $3. Check the calendar below to verify we are playing on the night you want.  We are occasionally closed for holidays. We have recently added an advanced night (4.0 and higher) on Mondays.  For questions,  text 360-936-9666. The school is located at 13900 NE 18th St, Vancouver, WA 98684.  When you are facing the school (north), the gym is around the back on the left (west). Walk around past the recycling area and you will see the entrance for the gym.  Come join us!

I had to find out more about their story.  So I got in touch with Michelle.  It’s definitely a story worthy of the PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award!  Enjoy!

Two years ago, Michelle and her husband Travis started playing pickleball.  They played at a local gym, but when the gym doubled the price of admission, they started looking around for an alternative place to play.  It just so happened that the principal at her school started playing pickleball, and was open to folks using the middle school gym on Sundays.  There were lots of folks who wanted to play, so Cascade Pickleball got organized.

Daniel Moore visits Columbia River Pickleball Club

Daniel Moore visits Columbia River Pickleball Club

They are sponsored by the school parent network, for insurance purposes, and when Michelle can’t be there, she has back-up school staff to make sure the gym is open and secure for pickleball. Michelle is actively trying to recruit more teachers to sign up to play pickleball.  They recently added an advanced night, 4.0 and higher on Mondays.

They keep a calendar on the school library website for 3 different levels of play and they charge $3 a session.  All the fees collected go to purchasing books for the middle school library.  They have been playing together for almost a year and have raised $3.000 so far.  That’s a lot of pickleball. When the principal bought Ipads for the school, Cascade Pickleball Club bought the cases for the Ipads.

iPad cart

Ipad Cart

Sept 2014 Pickleball book Purchases

September 2014 Book Purchases

It is the easiest fund raiser ever because everyone would be playing anyway, and it is so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cascade Pickleball Club is having their first tournament the last weekend in January. You can sign up on pickleballtournaments.com!  This club rocks!

Cascade cougar tournament logo