By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It’s not just the official Washington state sport. It’s not just a hobby. Pickleball is an addiction.
This league is only two months old, yet it’s a smashing success. 120 players get together at two locations every week to play indoors and socialize. They range in age from college students to late 70s.
88 of them play Sunday afternoons at Sealth, in two gyms, and another 32 at SeaTac Community Center on Mondays. Not only is it a win for the players, but also for the school – so far their $10/week fees have raised more than $9,000 to both support Sealth athletics and to grow a fund to support pickleball elsewhere in West Seattle.
Their sport is so hot, it’ll be the subject of a State Senate hearing in Olympia tomorrow (Monday, February 6), as legislators consider whether to authorize a custom license plate for pickleball via SB 5333. (We told you about the campaign last September.) One of the Westside Pickleball League’s three administrators, Amy, will be testifying in support of it. In the first year, sales of the plate could raise an estimated $50,000 to support pickleball around the state.
Here in West Seattle, the league is self-sustaining. They use portable nets, stored at Sealth, and more than 30 people arrive early on Sunday afternoons to set up the net and tape off their courts on the gym floors, modifying badminton lines. Sandwiched between the setup and breakdown are two hours of playing time. Each player gets to play three games a week; it’s a “ladder” league, so people rotate who they play with.
Another of the admins, Rosina, says she just started playing a year and a half ago. “It doesn’t take long to get addicted.” (There’s that word again!) Amy too has been playing about that long. Since then: “It took over our lives!” She’s a board member and officer with the (corrected) Seattle Metro Pickleball Association as well as helping run the Westside league.
Besides a wide age range, the players span a wide motivation range too – some are there just to have fun and socialize, others, we’re told, are “super-competitive.” But whatever level they’re at, they’re just happy to have a place to play – and looking for more options. Along with lobbying for the pickleball license plates, the Westside Pickleball League is advocating for more places to play in West Seattle. They’re trying to get Seattle Public Schools approval for pickleball lines on the district-owned tennis courts west of Southwest Pool; the league would cover the cost, they just need permission.
Meantime, they’ll be registering players soon for the next sessions, which start in March and May. The current players don’t have automatic dibs, but if they fill up before you get in, they do have a waitlist and “sub list” – if someone can’t play on a certain date, they give their spot to a sub. Registration information will be here.