After playing golf one Saturday during the summer, Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and Bill Bell, successful businessman, returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA to find their families sitting around with nothing to do.
The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.
At first they placed the net at badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net. As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches. The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.
In 1972 a corporation was formed to protect the creation of this new sport.
In 1984 The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was organized to perpetuate the growth and advancement of pickleball on a national level. The first rulebook was published in March 1984.
The first Executive Director and President of U.S.A.P.A. was Sid Williams who served from 1984 to 1998.
The first composite paddle was made by Arlen Paranto, a Boeing Industrial Engineer.
By 2021 USA Pickleball Membership reached the 50,000 milestone and ended the year with just over 53,000 members, a 43% increase from the previous year and the largest single growth year to date for the organization. This explosive growth continues.
In 2019 construction on The Founders Courts begins under the watchful eye of Founding Member Barney McCallum. Gov. Jay Inslee is on hand to commemorate the occasion and designate Barney McCallum Washingtonian of the Day.
In August of 2020, the Founders Courts complex is officially opened. The courts include historical kiosks and customized bricks that honor some of the donors that made the courts possible.
In 2021 The Founders Tournament is played on its home courts! Players from around the world gather each August to play where it all began!