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It’s official! The State Sport special license plate bill has been filed

The first day of Washington State’s 2023 legislative session began on Tuesday, January 10th, and Senator John Lovick wasted no time filing the State Sport special license plate bill on Wednesday, January 11th. The State Sport license plate bill recognizes the state sport of pickleball and is named Senate Bill 5333. Information about SB 5333, including status updates and the full text of the bill, is available on the Washington State Legislature website at leg.wa.gov. Proceeds from license plate sales will be used for the construction and maintenance of dedicated pickleball courts throughout Washington.

In March 2022, pickleball was officially designated the State Sport of Washington. Not long after, the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) decided that our State Sport deserves a state license plate and became the bill’s non-profit sponsor. After Senator Lovick gave his support as the bill’s legislative sponsor, SMPA began the process of collecting the necessary documents and signatures required by the Department of Licensing. The official signature launch began in September at Mariners Pickleball Night. With the help of volunteers and clubs throughout Washington, 3,855 signatures were obtained by December.

148 pages of paper petitions and over 1,200 online petition signatures exceeded the 3,500 requirement by 10%.

SMPA enlisted the help of four designers, and a poll let the public choose a favorite from eight designs. With over 50% of the vote, Pickleball Rising was the clear favorite. SMPA must still obtain Department of Licensing approval of the proposed plate, which must pass certain specifications.

The Pickleball State Sport license plate was designed by Jason Laramie of Laramie Studio in Seattle. His design was inspired by the ferry ride from Bainbridge Island, the birthplace of pickleball. The view is towards the east, where a pickleball rises like the sun over Washington State. The pickleball paddles at left are based on the commemorative OneShot paddles signed at the bill signing ceremony on Bainbridge Island.

If the bill passes during the 2023 legislative session, State Sport license plates will be available near the end of the year. The approximate cost of the pickleball license plate is $157.25 for passenger vehicle, with a $30 annual renewal fee. The display of Pickleball State Sport license plates throughout the state will be a great way to help grow the sport and attract the attention needed to build more pickleball facilities in your community and throughout Washington.

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Bitter Lake Outdoor Court Lights to Be Upgraded Soon

The Seattle Parks Department has enhanced the Mount Baker Park court lights in December 2022 and the difference is striking. With this latest upgrade, there is now decent lighting for evening play south of the ship canal at 20 lined pickleball courts:

(Over half of these courts do not have pickleball nets, but that is a story for another day.)

So far, there are no Seattle pickleball courts with decent lights north of the ship canal. Some players elect to drive to Shoreline Park for evening play. Others, such as the Green Lake Pickleball Club players have been pressing Seattle Parks to give them access to two of the ten lighted tennis courts at Lower Woodland during winter evenings when they go largely unused by tennis players.

But there is some good news for pickleball players who live north of the ship canal: This week, Andy Sheffer, Seattle Parks’ Director of Planning and Development, committed to upgrading the Bitter Lake court lights by the end of February 2023.

We predict a lot of evening play will occur on the eight Bitter Lake pickleball courts as soon as the new lights are installed.

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Pickleball State Sport license plate bill ready to go to Olympia!

Signature goal met, Pickleball Rising design wins poll vote

The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association is thrilled to announce that a Pickleball State Sport license plate bill will be part of Washington’s 2023 legislative session! The minimum requirement of 3,500 signatures has been collected. The design Pickleball Rising won the poll vote, and after additional feedback, the adjusted design shown above will be submitted to the Department of Licensing.

This is Washington’s second pickleball bill in two years, and the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association is honored to participate as the bill’s non-profit sponsor. Our legislative sponsor, Senator John Lovick of Mill Creek, will be moving the bill through the legislature.

Celebrating Washington’s State Sport at the Seattle Metro Pickleball Classic tournament on July 23, 2022.
From left: Frank Chiappone (SMPA President), Kate Van Gent (SMPA Director), Senator John Lovick (sponsored SB5615), Chuck Wright (proposed pickleball as the state sport), and Anna Copley (co-founder of Pickleball Central).

The Pickleball State Sport license plate was designed by Jason Laramie of Laramie Studio in Seattle. His design was inspired by the ferry ride from Bainbridge Island, the birthplace of pickleball. The view is towards the east, where a pickleball rises like the sun over Washington State. The pickleball paddles at left are based on the commemorative OneShot paddles signed on Bainbridge Island in March 2022, where the State Sport bill was signed into law. Of eight poll designs, Pickleball Rising received over 50% of the votes.

Collecting 3,500 signatures since the official petition launch on September 10th at Mariners Pickleball Night was no easy feat. SMPA enlisted many volunteers to reach folks all over Washington State, from Bellingham to Spokane. We would like to thank our volunteers and our partners who participated in collecting signatures, including Pickleball Central, Pickleball is Great, Eastside Tennis Center in Kirkland, Gorin Tennis Center in Redmond, Harbor Square Athletic Club in Edmonds, Skagit Valley College/Blackburn Pickleball Pavilion, Pickleball Playground in Spokane, and the many statewide clubs who hung our banners and posted our petition.

A very special thanks goes to volunteer John Rankin, who drove statewide to pickleball tournaments and pickleball events to gather signatures. We are firm believers that bills like this are needed to encourage the development of dedicated pickleball courts throughout Washington State.

SMPA volunteers, David Yamada and John Rankin, petitioning at T-Mobile Park before the Mariners vs. Astros playoff game.

Do you want to help build more pickleball facilities in your area but don’t know how? Become part of our movement by buying a Pickleball State Sport license plate when it becomes available! Every time you drive, your community and municipal leaders will be reminded that pickleball is here to stay. Proceeds from the purchase of every plate will support the development of dedicated pickleball courts. The display of Pickleball State Sport license plates throughout the state is a great way to help grow the sport and attract the attention needed to get more pickleball facilities built in your community and throughout Washington.

See you on the courts!

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Shop and Support SMPA

Do you ever shop on Amazon.com?

If so, select Seattle Metro Pickleball Association as your choice of nonprofit organization on Amazon.com., and the Amazon Smile program will donate 0.5% of qualified purchases to SMPA.

Lean more about the Amazon Smile program here.

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Introducing the Diversity and Inclusion in Pickleball Fund 

Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) Board of Directors unanimously approved a new program dedicated to providing pickleball to underserved communities in Seattle. This program is driven by Sue Goodwin, along with a newly formed Advisory Council of community representatives.

The community Advisory Council will engage neighborhood members to drive local player involvement. The Advisory Council work sets the stage for participants to learn and practice skills to foster a pickleball community and culture characterized by courtesy, kindness, and inclusion. The Advisory Council will help to recruit, train, and hire youth and adult leaders, coaches, referees, and ambassadors from Seattle’s historically underserved diverse communities to grow the game and culture of pickleball.

This program seeks to expand the ethnic, economic, and geographic diversity in pickleball play and instructional activities. With a goal of $10,000 annual budget, the program fund is independently managed by the Advisory Council.

The fund source is a combination of community donations, grants specific to the goals of the program, and personal donations. The Advisory Council anticipates additional funds for the Seattle Diversity and Inclusion in Pickleball (DIIP) Fund through pickleball clinics, lessons, and donations.

Seattle Metro Pickleball Association, acting as fiscal sponsor, formally established a “DIIP fund” to provide financial support for this diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) pickleball program and related services for established underserved communities of Seattle.

Click the Donate button to complete your online donation to the DIIP Fund. 

If you have any questions, email us and someone will respond as promptly as possible.

If you are making your donation by check, make it payable to Seattle Metro Pickleball Association noted as “DIIP fund”. Mail to SMPA, 6523 California Avenue SW, Ste 151, Seattle WA 98136.

This DIIP fund allows personal funds, corporate matching funds, or donor-advised funds be given as tax-deductible donations to the 501(c)3 nonprofit Seattle Metro Pickleball Association.

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News Volunteer

Volunteer and up your game. It’s a win-win.

The pickleball license plate is on track to become a reality and you can participate in the process. We only need less than 800 petition signatures to reach our goal of 3,500 by December 19 (Mon).

SMPA has pickleball instructors excited about the license plate who are donating their time to give free clinics as a thank you to any volunteers helping with the final push to get petition signatures. Volunteers will be eligible for a FREE Intermediate/Advanced Skills and Drills Clinics to be taught by prominent pickleball instructors in April or May 2023 (Dates/location TBD) for every 50 petition signatures.

Requirements

  • First 16 people to turn in 50 petition signatures (2 full sheets) will get a FREE spot in a 90-minute clinic.
  • Every 50 signatures guarantees a FREE spot.
  • Collect 100 signatures and bring a friend to the clinic for FREE!

Bring the petition sheets, a clipboard and pen to your favorite hangout, family gathering, tournament, league, or club event! Please keep the originals and email photos of completed petition sheets to amy.greger@seattlemetropickleball.com by 12/19/2022.

Volunteer Opportunities

Please sign up for a shift on SignUpGenius to collect petition signatures at the 2022 ETC/Kirkland Holiday Pickleball Smash!

Over 400 players are registered for this tournament on 12/15 to 12/18 (4 days). It’s the easiest way to hit the 50 signatures and secure a FREE admission to the Spring 2023 Pickleball Skills clinic. Sign up for 2-hour shifts now!

Draft Plate Design and Online Petition

The online petition is available for signatures from anywhere! Check out the draft designs and vote for your favorite before the poll is closed.

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Alert News

Seattle Parks Listening Sessions Update

Seattle Parks sent you an invitation that reads “We want to hear your ideas on how to make our recreation facilities and programs work for you! Join the conversation with recreation leadership and share your ideas on how we can improve recreation communications, facility hours, and programs.”

Eighteen people, fifteen of which were pickleball players, attended the first listening session.

Here is what transpired.

Good News

Seattle Parks is considering increasing evening and weekend operating hours at its community centers. 

Bad News

To increase evening and weekend operating hours, something’s gotta give: the current operating hours. Seattle Parks is considering taking away some of the hours that the community centers are currently open during the day Mondays to Fridays and moving them to evenings and weekends. This could seriously affect the current drop-in pickleball schedule.

What Can You Do About It?

Attend a listening session

If you attend one of the listening sessions, you will be asked four questions:

  1. Indicate when you would like to access recreation facilities and programs, by distributing stickies across days (MTWTFSS) and time slots (7-9,9-12,12-2,2-5,5-9).
  2. What are the main ways that you hear or learn about recreation activities
  3. How would changing hours to evening or weekend impact you?
  4. Is there anything else you would like to share with Seattle Park and Recreation leadership?
Participants in Seattle Parks first listening session at the Delridge Community Center on November 9th, 2022
Make your voice heard

When we hear about expanded hours, we all dream of more pickleball hours. But that is not what we are talking about here. This is mostly a reallocation of hours towards evenings and weekends.

When you answer #3, keep in mind that a carelessly executed expansion plan could lead to the loss of current pickleball drop-in sessions and no new evening or weekend pickleball drop-in sessions.

Answer the online survey

Seattle Parks released an online survey. It will ask questions similar to the ones above.

Make your voice heard

When we hear about expanded hours, we all dream of more pickleball hours. But that is not what we are talking about here. This is mostly a reallocation of hours towards evenings and weekends.

When you answer question #13 (“How would changing the community center operating hours to evenings and weekends impact you?”), keep in mind that a carelessly executed expansion plan could lead to the loss of current pickleball drop-in sessions and no new evening or weekend pickleball drop-in sessions.

Use question #17 (“When you visit a Seattle park, what are some of the things that you would consider an enjoyable experience”) and #18 (“When you think about welcoming safe and clean parks, what does that look like to you) to talk about what you would consider an enjoyable pickleball recreation program and enjoyable pickleball recreation facilities. See yesterday’s post if you need a little inspiration.

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More courts, more play, more nets

The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association understands that a pickleball court isn’t complete without a net and we are working with various Parks Departments and local communities to get nets where they are needed.

This year, twelve semi-permanent Douglas pickleball nets were installed at locations throughout Seattle and Shoreline. Last year, twenty semi-permanent Douglas nets were installed. The vast majority of these nets have been purchased thanks to funds raised by the pickleball community with the help of corporate matching. SMPA continues to request that parks departments add semi-permanent nets wherever they add pickleball lines. Seattle Parks has plans to add 12 more Douglas nets to courts over the next few months.

These nets make the game more accessible for everyone, eliminate the need to carry portable nets to the courts and take the time before playing to assemble them. SMPA will continue to work with parks departments across the metro area to prioritize adding more pickleball courts and nets in 2023.

If you need nets at your local courts we can help. Read our fundraising guide. Contact us at info@seattlemetropickleball.com.

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State Sport Pickleball License Plate Poll

If you haven’t already signed the state sport license plate petition, now is the time!

The graphic designers have submitted their drafts. Which one of these designs will be on the pickleball license plate? You decide! Click on the poll to select your favorite design and submit your comments.

These are rough drafts and can be altered. The letters SMPLE mean SAMPLE. When the plates are made, each plate will be assigned an individual number taking the place of the temporary word SMPLE. Submit your comments at the bottom of the poll to provide any feedback on the designs.

SMPA is 65% of the way to the goal of 3,500 signatures. If you’re excited about getting one of these designs on your car, spread the word and ask your friends to sign the petition! Feedback on any of the designs can be posted in the poll.

Displaying a pickleball license plate on your vehicle is a great way to celebrate and share your pride in the sport you love. Your community and municipal leaders will be reminded that pickleball is here to stay, every time you drive. It is a great way to help grow the sport and attract the attention needed to get more pickleball facilities built in Washington. Proceeds from license plate sales will be used for the construction and maintenance of dedicated pickleball courts throughout Washington.

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SMPA at Microsoft Ignite 2022

The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association showcased the state sport of pickleball at Microsoft Ignite last week. The global event, launched in six languages, brings together product experts and partners from around the world to discuss the latest innovations shaping the future of tech. This year it was back, with 3,500 people uniting at the Seattle Convention Center in downtown Seattle.

Microsoft asked the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association to be a partner in showcasing the flavors of the Pacific Northwest, and what sport is more representative of the Pacific Northwest than pickleball, invented on Bainbridge Island. When it comes to pickleball, Washington has many firsts. Among these, the state can boast the first composite pickleball paddle, the first pickleball tournaments and the first retailers.

Our friends at Pickleball Central once again supported us to make the event successful. Nicole Smith, Director of Retail Operations, provided a display of ten pickleball paddles, including an original wooden paddle. Also on display was an official state sport paddle, signed by the governor and others at the state sport bill signing on Bainbridge Island. SMPA Director Gordon Sata brought an impressive display of maps showing pickleball court locations throughout Seattle. Director Amy Greger was on hand, along with SMPA volunteers, to tell participants about the Washington State pickleball license plate bill and petition, the first of its kind in the United States. Pickleball instructor Rick Bomar, aka Pickleball Rick of Marysville, and Devin Schmidt, Head Pro at Harbor Square Athletic Club in Edmonds, volunteered their time and expertise to engage and educate attendees about pickleball.

Joining the SMPA and Pickleball Central on the main convention floor was a Sasquatch, Woodinville Valley Farms, Frans Chocolates, Pike Brewing Beers, the Blitz Seahawks mascot, Blue Thunder, and the famous fish throwers of Pike Place Market. Sasquatch and Blitz spent quite a bit of time in our area, posing for photos and dinking back and forth.

The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association would like to extend a special thank you to all the volunteers who made this event a success. Look for us (and maybe Sasquatch) at future Microsoft events.