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Edmonds Couple Transforming Pickleball with Epic Tournament

Edmonds Couple Transforming Pickleball: In the lively Puget Sound region, pickleball has taken root and flourished, much to the delight of local enthusiasts. Among them is Edmonds resident Patrick Johnson, whose passion  for the sport has lead him to the growth of its community. With origins tracing back to 1965 on Bainbridge Island, pickleball has become more than just a pastime; it’s a thriving subculture. Johnson, alongside his wife Marianne, is at the heart of this movement, tirelessly working to elevate the game through initiatives like the Seattle Metro Classic, an event set to draw 900 participants this year. Their journey from casual players to key organizers highlights the sport’s meteoric rise and enduring appeal.

It’s understandable that a sport originating in a specific region could gain immense popularity there. Such is the case with pickleball in the Puget Sound area, much to the delight of Edmonds resident and pickleball enthusiast, Patrick Johnson.

A Local Phenomenon with Deep Roots

The quirky racket sport, invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, has developed a huge local following. Johnson is a proud member of this devoted pickleball community and is dedicated to promoting and growing the sport. While local interest saw modest growth in the early 2000s, the past few years have witnessed a remarkable surge. “Post-COVID pickleball (popularity) has exponentially increased,” Johnson noted. “Our numbers, as a community, probably quadrupled during 2020, 2021. And now it’s like the train is rolling and you can’t stop the train now.”

Exposed to pickleball as a sixth grader in the Edmonds School District, Johnson started his love for the sport about a decade ago and is now fully immersed in it. “I have a court in my backyard,” he admitted with a touch of sheepishness. Beyond being an avid player, Johnson serves as an ambassador for USA Pickleball, advocating for more courts, organizing events and tournaments, and sharing his enthusiasm with anyone willing to listen. “The sport has given me so much, this is a way to give back,” he said.

Edmonds Couple Transforming Pickleball

Building a Community Through the Seattle Metro Classic

Six years ago, Johnson, along with his wife Marianne and a couple of close friends, founded the Seattle Metro Classic, a tournament for both new and seasoned players. The inaugural tournament in 2018 had 50 entries; this year’s event, scheduled for July 30 through August 4 in Shoreline, will feature over 900 competitors, making it the largest tournament on the West Coast.

“So far having what we’re offering, which is a community tournament, we’re getting a lot of interest, So we know we’re doing something right.”-( Patrick Johnson )

Running the Seattle Metro Classic is a labor of love for its organizers and their 150-strong volunteer team.

There’s no big pickle behind us,We’re just a couple of people who really enjoy pickleball and love giving back.”-(johnson)

This year’s tournament will take place on 18 temporary pickleball courts set up within the surrounding tennis courts of Shoreview Park, a statement to the sport’s growing popularity and need for dedicated spaces.

The Future of Pickleball

Reflecting on the early days, Johnson recalls the struggle to find courts to play on.

“Ten years ago it was a struggle (finding courts to play on),But in the whole north-of-Seattle area, Yost Park was probably the epicenter (for pickleball).”-johnson

Initially, pickleball players like Johnson had to improvise, using chalk to draw court lines on tennis courts. The City of Edmonds Parks Department eventually recognized the demand and converted the facility to be pickleball-exclusive. “Once those permanent lines were put on, it really brought the masses in,” Johnson noted.

The sport’s appeal extended to Johnson’s wife, Marianne, who joined him on the courts after his romantic invitation. He said, “I thought this is something we can do for the rest of our life,’” she recalled. Now, the couple plays regularly, often teaming up for doubles competitions, including the Seattle Metro Classic. “Usually my wife and I play together as a reward to each other,” Johnson said. “Not always recommended for a husband and wife to play together — you can understand why,” he added with a smile.

Johnson anticipated a bright future for pickleball, advocating for its inclusion in school curricula and its recognition as a competitive sport at various levels, including the Olympics. He also hopes to see more communities building courts to accommodate the growing number of players.

“Every city has courts now,Not as many as we would like; we’re bursting at the seams. The player-to-court ratio is so skewed now. All we can do is keep lobbying.”-(johnson)

The Seattle Metro Classic Pickleball Tournament is set to take place from Tuesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 4. This exciting event will be hosted at Shoreview Park, located at 700 N.W. Innis Arden Way in Shoreline. Participants and audience can enjoy the tournament each day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Edmonds Couple Transforming Pickleball

News in Brief: Edmonds Couple Transforming Pickleball

Pickleball has gained in popularity, led by passionate advocate Patrick Johnson and his wife Marianne. Originating in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, the sport has evolved from a local pastime to a thriving community, with Johnson leading initiatives like the Seattle Metro Classic. Starting with modest roots, this tournament has grown exponentially, now drawing over 900 participants annually. Johnson’s dedication extends beyond gameplay; he champions pickleball’s expansion, advocating for more courts and envisioning its future in school curricula and even the Olympics. Their journey showcases pickleball’s rise as a beloved sport in the Pacific Northwest.

Also Read: New Pickleball and Tennis Courts Coming to Columbus Parks

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