Don Sickle of Bainbridge Island makes a play at the net during a medal match in the Mixed Doubles tournament. Sickle and his partner, Kim Hemingway, won silver in the 3.0, 50+ group. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Don Sickle of Bainbridge Island makes a play at the net during a medal match in the Mixed Doubles tournament. Sickle and his partner, Kim Hemingway, won silver in the 3.0, 50+ group. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Founders pickleball tournament now has a home

The home of pickleball finally has a home, and this past weekend was a time to celebrate.

The Founders Courts at Battle Point Park have been in use for a little less than a year, but with the eagerly anticipated return of the Founders Tournament the new home of pickleball on Bainbridge Island at last got the rousing, large-scale introduction it deserves.

The sport has come a long way from its humble beginnings at the Pleasant Beach summer home of Joel Pritchard, then a statehouse representative, in 1965. Having 400 participants from not just the Puget Sound region, but all around the West Coast and Hawaii, making the trek up to BI, shows pickleball is quickly spreading throughout the Americas. The inaugural 2019 tournament had players from 14 states and two Canadian provinces.

“For us, it was a huge success,” said Brianna Kosowitz, executive director of the BI Historical Museum, which puts on the tournament as a fundraiser. Pickleball is Great, run by pickleball enthusiast Mike Hoxie, organized the tournament.

The Founders Tournament’s history is short, but each event thus far has had a special attached meaning. The first tournament was fortunate to have its last-living co-creator, Barney McCallum, in attendance and players had the chance to meet him, get an autograph or a photo with him. He passed away just a few months later at age 93.

In contrast with that event, which took place on converted tennis courts at Bainbridge High School, this year’s version was played on courts built specifically for the sport. “The courts were so gorgeous because of the effort put forth by the community and the local pickleball club who helped make the courts come to life,” Kosowitz said.

The four-day event, which featured a wooden paddle classic, mixed doubles, and men’s and women’s doubles tournaments, did have to battle some of the elements. A couple of days reached 90 degrees on BI, and there was some wildfire smoke in the air, though it never reached unhealthy levels for people outside of sensitive groups.

The tournament had over 200 volunteers, most of whom were pickleball players from Bainbridge, on hand for support. They made sure there was plenty of water available, and there were misting tents around the grounds. Hand sanitizer was also readily available as they worked to ensure COVID-19 boundaries and guidelines were respected, and players were comfortable.

“We just tried really hard to caution everyone to be aware of how they were feeling,” Kosowitz said.

The conditions didn’t put too much of a damper on the tournament. Whether playing or watching, participants were constantly engaged, providing cheers for their friends and fellow competitors and some oohs and aahs for outstanding hits and rallies.

It was yet another chapter for a little sport that has made a long march to international prominence, with BI serving as a mecca for this still fast-growing game.

“People who are plugged into pickleball are energized to play where pickleball was born,” Kosowitz said. “That’s a really special thing for people who are into it.”

Don Sickle of Bainbridge Island makes a play at the net during a medal match in the Mixed Doubles tournament. Sickle and his partner, Kim Hemingway, won silver in the 3.0, 50+ group. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Don Sickle of Bainbridge Island makes a play at the net during a medal match in the Mixed Doubles tournament. Sickle and his partner, Kim Hemingway, won silver in the 3.0, 50+ group. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Janelle Chow of Redmond returns serve in the 3.0, 8-49 gold medal match, which she won with partner Josh Bond, also of Redmond. Chow also won a silver medal in a women’s double tournament. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Janelle Chow of Redmond returns serve in the 3.0, 8-49 gold medal match, which she won with partner Josh Bond, also of Redmond. Chow also won a silver medal in a women’s double tournament. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Janelle Chow of Redmond returns serve in the 3.0, 8-49 gold medal match, which she won with partner Josh Bond, also of Redmond. Chow also won a silver medal in a women’s double tournament. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Janelle Chow of Redmond returns serve in the 3.0, 8-49 gold medal match, which she won with partner Josh Bond, also of Redmond. Chow also won a silver medal in a women’s double tournament. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Eyung Gov of Seattle gets across the court to a shot as he and his partner, Lorin Lee, make their way to a bronze medal. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Eyung Gov of Seattle gets across the court to a shot as he and his partner, Lorin Lee, make their way to a bronze medal. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Eyung Gov of Seattle gets across the court to a shot as he and his partner, Lorin Lee, make their way to a bronze medal. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Eyung Gov of Seattle gets across the court to a shot as he and his partner, Lorin Lee, make their way to a bronze medal. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Dana Henry just gets a piece of a shot during a medal match. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Dana Henry just gets a piece of a shot during a medal match. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Dana Henry just gets a piece of a shot during a medal match. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Dana Henry just gets a piece of a shot during a medal match. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

The 2021 Founders Tournament was the first to take place on the Founders Courts at Battlepoint Park. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

The 2021 Founders Tournament was the first to take place on the Founders Courts at Battlepoint Park. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

More in Sports

Bainbridge middle blocker Holley McFadden gets in the way of a Kingston shot during her team’s victory over the Bucs on Thursday. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bainbridge beats Kingston for 3rd consecutive win

Three games, nine sets, all of them have gone Bainbridge’s way. The… Continue reading

Sky Henderson (29) rushes to congratulate teammate Avery Pujolar after scoring her third goal of the game in a 5-0 win over Bremerton. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review photos)
Pujolar’s hat trick sparks Bainbridge to victory

Bainbridge sophomore Avery Pujolar was flying down the left sideline at full… Continue reading

South Kitsap junior Anna Harvey drops a shot past the Kingston defense. The Wolves defeated the Bucs three sets to two Monday night. (Mark Krulish/North Kitsap Herald photos)
SK comes back to defeat Kingston in 5 sets

South Kitsap was trailing two sets to one late in the fourth… Continue reading

Josh Smith, along with partner Drake Jones, are the top doubles pair for North Kitsap and led the way in Thursday’s match against Bainbridge, winning 6-0, 6-1. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
BI wins singles, NK doubles and match

North Kitsap’s seniors are hoping to make the most of their final… Continue reading

Kingston lineman Hugo Hall goes head-to-head with a teammate during a blocking drill at a preseason practice. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Coach finally has time to teach new system

It’s fair to say that few football coaches had a tougher first… Continue reading

Bainbridge running back Matt LeDorze crashes through the line in the Spartans’ opening night game against Garfield. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review)
Young Bainbridge blown out in opener

It was a baptismal by fire for Bainbridge’s young gridders on opening… Continue reading

Sophomore running back/wide receiver Jorden Lee should be one of the team’s featured ball carriers this year. (Mark Krulish | Kitsap News Group)
Young Wolves football team is hungry for a full season

PORT ORCHARD — South Kitsap’s football team will feature a mostly “new-look”… Continue reading

Hailey Deese leads the rush upfield during last year’s match against Bremerton. South Kitsap has a number of returners from last spring’s varsity team. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Sports previews: South Kitsap

Girls Soccer 2021 record: 8-2-1 Head coach: Hailey Parker Key players: Rosamaria… Continue reading

Colton Bower was a 2A All-State selection in the spring and he leads an experienced North Kitsap team this season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
All-State QB leads N. Kitsap this fall

Editor’s note: A preview on Kingston football will run in next week’s… Continue reading

Most Read