By Dick Barton USAPA Member
The growth of Pickleball into a worldwide sport has spawned new companies eager to supply the equipment. But, there is another aspect to being a company engaged in Pickleball. That is the softer side of community outreach to support local tournaments especially those raising money for good causes and programs to expose veterans, underprivileged youth, and others to the sport.
One example of such generosity comes from Onix, a maker of paddles and balls. The Onix give-back program provides equipment to local charitable causes and works with organizations such as United Way. Onix recently sponsored the Erich Schuette PTSD Awareness tournament in Utah which was run by a Team Onix player to raise funds for an organization that assists veterans suffering from PTSD.
Another manufacturer, Selkirk, primarily known for its paddles, loves supporting teaching programs for kids and veterans. According to Rob Barnes, one of the founding family, Selkirk offers deep discounts on its equipment for teaching purposes. For example, the company offers a Club Paddle for only $15 to support local causes. It also donates equipment for charity efforts.
Distributors such as Pickleball Central have donations programs too. Through their company Pickle-ball, Inc., they have sponsored the USAPA grant program since 2010. Through this program, they provide grant recipients paddles and balls at no cost. To date, they have donated over 4,500 paddles.
Although not a household name, OnCourt Offcourt has donated about $500,000 worth of equipment since 1994. In a recent donation, the company gave a new portable net to the Ellis Park youth program in Chicago which was detailed in a recent Pickleball Magazine article.
A better-known name, Wilson Sporting Goods, is somewhat new to the game by launching a line of paddles in August 2018. According to a company spokesperson, Wilson is currently putting together a comprehensive outreach program for 2019 and looking to support local events, charities, and clubs.
As the sport continues to grow nationally and internationally, companies will also focus on local efforts to promote Pickleball and new ways of being a good corporate citizen.
This article was written by Dick Barton and was published in USAPA Sept/October 2018 issue. Dick is a former racquetball player who found the joys of pickleball about two years ago. He plays 2-3 times a week. He has helped organize local pickleball events and equipment drives for good causes. Dick lives in the Chicago suburbs and if you are in the area he invites you to play!