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Meet the American who founded pickleball, America's fastest growing sport

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Joel M. Pritchard was really in trouble. 

Seattle businessman,WashingtonRepublican congressman, and father of four, he started playing golf at his home on Bainbridge Island in 1965. enjoying his summer day after going out to by his restless children.

He and his buddy Bill his bell tried to calm the storm with a afternoon activity on his court of local badminton. 

One problem. They couldn't find the right equipment for a proper game of badminton - or the origin story of the pickleball, a story told by many of the burgeoning sports enthusiasts.

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Pritchard (1925-1997), WWII U.S. Army Veteranrelied on his military training to keep his children calm. 

He improvised, adapted and overcame. 

Joel M. Pritchard in 1969, while serving in the Washington state senate. Pritchard served for more than 30 years in Washington politics while also working as a business executive and founding pickleball in 1965. 

In 1969 Joel M. Washington State Senator Pritchard. While in Washington politics for more than 30 years, Pritchard also acted as his executive in business and founded Pickleball in 1965.  (Washington State Legislature)

Bell played badminton on his court, using a ping-pong table and a perforated plastic ball (such as a wiffle ball). ) to put together a makeshift game. 

Together with his friend Bernie McCallum, they drew up the rules a few days later. 

Pickleball was born in Pritchard's backyard. 

The sport "combines many elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis," said his USA Pickleball, the sport's governing body.

The name pickleball may sound funny. But sports are no joke. 

"Played indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net with paddles and perforated plastic balls."

The name pickleball may sound strange. 

But sports are no joke. 

Pickleball business booms during COVID-19 pandemic

Pickleball isAmerica's fastest growing It is a growing participatory sport , according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). 

There has also been a sudden influx of money and significant interest from celebrities. 

Drew Brees (left) announced his ownership investment in the Major League Pickleball team the Mad Drops in July 2022. Entrepreneur Steve Kuhn (right) founded the league in 2021. 

Owned by Drew Brees (left) announced its investment in major league pickleball team Mad Drops in July 2022. Entrepreneur Steve Kuhn (right) launches the league in his 2021.  (Major League Pickleball)

We see it as a great medium to promote style," Major League Pickleball's newest team owner, former NFL star Drew Brees,, told Fox News Digital. The 

future Hall of Fame quarterback and Texas native announced his ownership of his club after mad dropping his pickleball in July. Other investors in the 

organization include Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Jim Bass.

The Austin, Texas-based Muddrops are one of his 12 major league pickleball clubs founded last year by entrepreneur Steve Kuhn. We will soon have 16 clubs. 

Recent investors include celebrity entrepreneur, social media influencer and NFT apostle Gary Vaynerchuk.

"There are endless opportunities to grow Major League Pickleball and the sport through his professional coeducational team his events and fan engagement," Brees said.

The sport is creating a new American lifestyle in Texas and other pickleball hotspots.

Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith in action as they hit the pickleball during the Red Rock Open Women's Doubles Championship at Little Valley Sports Complex in St. George, Utah, on April 10, 2022.

April 10, 2022 St. George, Utah Pickleball at the Red Rock Open Women's Doubles Championship at the Little Valley Sports Complex in New York City.(Nils Nilsen/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Courtside Kitchen, a giant pickleball concept restaurant that opened in Fort Worth last summer. With 7,500 square feet of indoor dining and he has 23,500 square feet of outdoor space dedicated to eating and drinking and pickleballs. 

"The sport of pickleball has captured the hearts and minds of Fort Worth's thriving community," raved Restaurant News when unveiling a new concept eatery last year. . 

"More Focused" Soldier

Pickleball Patriarch Joel McPhee Pritchard was killed on May 8, 1925 in Seattle with Frank. Jean (McPhee) was born to Pritchard in a longtime Washington family. 

He served as a state legislator (1959-71), a member of the United States House of Representatives (1973-85), and finally as the 14th Lieutenant Governor (1989-97). 

Before serving the people of the Evergreen State, Uncle he served Sam. 

U.S. servicemen and Japanese women dancing at the Oasis nightclub, Tokyo, 1945. Joel Pritchard, Washington state politician and creator of pickleball, served in the U.S. Army occupation force in Tokyo after World War II. 

Oasis Nightclub, Tokyo, 1945 . Joel Pritchard, Washington State politician and creator of the pickleball, served in the US occupation forces in Tokyo after World War II.  (Photo from History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Pritchard was 18 years old in 1943 when second At the height of World War II 

he sailed into the Pacific Theater, where, among other stops, the teenager saw combat at the Battle of Cebu City in the Philippines.

"His division was to be at the forefront of the planned invasion of Japan," he told HistoryLink, a repository of Washington state history. org reports in an extensive biography of Pritchard. 

On this day in history, August 17, 1943, Patton defeated Monty against Messina and liberated Sicily

Up to 4 million US casualties and 10 million civilians died in the invasion of mainland Japan. Pritchard, like most of his GIs in 1945, definitely feared the worst. 

The atomic bomb eliminated the need for a more deadly invasion.  

"WhenJapan surrendered, Pritchard was instead at the forefront of the post-war occupation," he notes HistoryLink. 

"He remembered 'block after block of nothing' in bombed-out Tokyo. He remained in Japan for about six months, helping build airfields, I traveled with the Army basketball team.”

A pickleball sits on the court next to the net at the newly opened West Reading Pickleball Courts in West Reading, Penn., on Friday, June 25, 2021. The West Reading Pickleball Association held an intro to pickleball clinic for people new to the sport. The venue has a SportCourt athletic surface.

The newly opened West Reading Pickleball Court in West Reading, Pennsylvania, Friday, June 25, 2021. The venue has a SportCourt athletic surface. (Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

Sgt. Pritchard had a wealth of experience when he was discharged from the Army in 1946 and was only 20 years old. His older brother Frank reportedly said he came back "more focused" from his wartime experiences. 

He attended Marietta College in Ohio and wanted to play soccer. And he never lost his desire to compete. 

"When he decided to marry Joan Sutton, whom he met at Marietta, he had Marietta less than two years. started,” reports HistoryLink. 

Gary Vaynerchuk, chief executive officer of VaynerMedia, speaks during the Annual Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Event in New York, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. The celebrity entrepreneur and social media influencer invested in Major League Pickleball in 2022.  

Gary, CEO of VaynerMedia Vaynerchuk will speak at the Annual Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Event in New York on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. The celebrity entrepreneur and social media influencer has invested in his pickleball Major League Baseball in 2022.  (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Pritchard took a job at the Griffin Envelope Company until his retirement as president in 1971. He served nearly 25 years. 

Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard raised his four children: Peggy, Frank, Anne, and Jeanie. Those children turned out to be integral to the origin story of Pickleball. 

"Pickleball Is Here"

Pickleball has grown slowly since his 1965 founding. A list of stakeholders who are pickling.  

Major League pickleball, which pits teams against each other, isn't the only game in town. 

New York City residents participate in a Pickleball game at William F. Passannante Ballfield, in New York City on May 1, 2022.  

New York City Residents Pickleballs Join May 1, 2022, William F., New York City. A match at the Passanante Ballfield.   (Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

While competing tours boast players, groups like Pickleball Trips take travelers to the sport's hotspots around the world, demonstrating the growing appeal of the game as a lifestyle brand. 

"Our mission is to combine [a] unparalleled travel experience with world-class pickleball instruction," says his Pickleball Trip website. increase.

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Stacey Townsend, a former professional pickleball player, keeps the latest on her blog The Pickler. In her news on, fans follow her media trends on Pickleball's social through influencers such as @thedinkpickleball on her Instagram, which boasts more than 100,000 followers. 

"It's pretty wild right now," said Townsend of the sport's skyrocketing that she started just five years before her. 

"Sociable, competitive and easy to learn. Anyone can play and improve quickly."

Her own story This is the proof. "I went from being a complete amateur to being a pro in a year and a half, two years. What other sport can do that?"

This sport is open to both men and women. Due to its widespread popularity, the recent popularity of pickleball has increased dramatically. 

Pickleball is also the only sport in which men and women compete against each other on equal footing on the same court and earn the same amount of money, said a business analyst at Major His League. Ann Wooster said. pickle ball. 

"Sponsors love that aspect, partners love it, fans love it, investors love it," she said.

The sport's gender identity has fueled its recent dramatic rise in popularity.  

Pickleball rackets at the Arroyo Seco Racquet Club in South Pasadena, California, on Saturday, July 23, 2022.

Arroyo Seco Racquet Club Pickleball Racquet Saturday, July 23, 2022, South Pasadena, CA. Its incredible rise has made it the fastest growing sport in the last two years, with participation he up 39.3%," she said. 432} reported in February.  

The organization estimates that up to 8 million Americans play pickleball regularly. 

Major League Baseball His pickleball founder, Mr. Kuhn, plans to increase that number to 40 million pickleball his players by 2030. 

"Pickleball is here to stay," says Wooster.

"The fun-loving extrovert"

JElle His Pritchard was born in Seattle on October 9, 1997. He died after suffering several seizures in his apartment. of lymphoma. he was 72 years old. 

Washington state Lt. Gov. Joel Pritchard (left) and Secretary of the Senate Gordon Golob in 1990. Pritchard created pickleball, the fastest growing sport in America in 2022. 

Lieutenant Washington. Governor Joel Pritchard (left) and Senator Gordon Golob (1990). Pritchard has created pickleball, America's fastest growing sport in 2022.  (Washington State Legislature)

"One of Washington's modern Republican lions, Pritchard occasionally tweaked his party, He earned accolades for working with colleagues on both sides of the political aisle," Spokesman Review wrote in his obituary. 

"He was fun-loving and outgoing, and liked funny jokes and war stories," he added.

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Kudos to him Representing Joel M. on the grounds of the State Capitol. We named it the Pritchard Building. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. 

"Pickleballs have brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people."

"He invented pickleballs," says spokesperson Review A tribute, incidentally, back in the day when sports were a bit of a curiosity. It was just a footnote in the life of one of Washington's most prominent politicians in 1997. 

The pickleball looks like the feat he remembers best now, twenty-five years after Pritchard's death. 

Major League His Pickleball named the winning trophy Pritchard His Cup, "the most coveted trophy in pickleball". Meanwhile, Pritchard's home island origin story is now deeply ingrained in the sport's culture.


Just Exploded said Townshend, blogger of The Pickler.

"Pickleballs have brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people."

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