The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association reached a bittersweet but important milestone this week. 4 years ago, SMPA was formed by a group of passionate pickleball players with a vision of growing the sport and enabling more people to discover, learn and fall in love with this great game. Since that first meeting over coffee and donuts, the organization navigated its early formative years led by the steady hand and calming presence of its first president, Jerry Kindinger. For those of you who have met Jerry on the courts, you know all about his easy smile and friendly demeanor to go along with his mean dink game. What you may not know is he has also been a fierce advocate for pickleball with government officials and community center directors these past 4 years and has led the way for SMPA to seek more opportunities for all of us to play. He has presided over SMPA from the original 8 founding members to its current total of more than 300 members. But all good things must come to an end, and this week Jerry served his last day on the Board of Directors and President of SMPA.
This is an important time for SMPA. Our Vice President, Theresa Haynie and Director Miguel de Campos are the last two founding members still on the Board. They are both serving final terms before they too ride off into the pickleball sunset. So the questions we need to ask ourselves as an organization are What Now? What Next?
The founding members have done a great job of forming the Association, establishing its policies and rhythms that make this thing go. From being officially designated a 501 c3, working with SPR to add more and more pickleball lines to tennis courts, to establishing the Seattle Metro Pickleball Classic as the premier outdoor tournament in the Pacific Northwest, SMPA has accomplished a lot under the leadership of its first president. It’s now up to the next generation of Directors to keep it going, keep the momentum, and to take it even further, to build on what’s been done by Jerry and the other founding Directors.
I believe the time is right, we have the structure in place, we have the right folks on the Board, and we have a powerful community of passionate pickleball players ready and willing to take some big swings, to reach our goals of building a permanent pickleball facility somewhere in the metro area, and to continue to grow our influence and promote the sport in our communities.
The challenge for us is to make those big swings count. To seek the right opportunities, to work with the right people, to find the right time to mobilize our forces. That’s the job the current Board is willing, and excited, to take on. But to have the kind of success we seek it will take all of us. We all need to continue to raise our voices for new courts, more access to existing courts, more opportunities to play. We all need to be active participants, in both big and small ways, in growing the sport. Together we can make a difference.
Though following in Jerry’s footprints is daunting, I’m honored to succeed him as SMPA president and push SMPA forward. As is the case with all our Directors I promise to be bold, be the squeaky wheel you need me to be, and to swing for the fences to reach our goals.
If you’re not yet an SMPA member, join and add your voice to hundreds of others in support of growing pickleball in the Seattle metro area. If you are a member, thank you, and let me know how SMPA can help in your community or how you can help SMPA!
See you on the courts!
President, Seattle Metro Pickleball Association