By Holly, GAMMA Marketing Coordinator
It’s literally not even been a week and I already want to go back to Nationals. Done. Take me back. Let’s get on a flight. Give me those Cali pickleball vibes.
We all know that’s not possible, but I’m pretty sure there’s more than a few of you that feel the same way. Don’t worry, I got you. Just take a look at the picture above!
It’s not even been a year since I was hired as GAMMA’s Marketing Coordinator (it’s a year on December 13, in case you were wondering), but in this short amount of time I have come to understand the community, commitment, fun and social aspect of the sport. Now take that, and magnify it by about 10, and that’s what my first Nationals experience was like!
It started off with a five-hour direct flight (which I now completely understand the importance of when travelling for work) and gathering some content for our social media…which entailed a road trip! Our content treasure hunt took us to Sunset Blvd, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, to name a few. Luckily, I was not driving because this lady does not do six lanes of traffic anywhere, especially in Los Angeles (#anxiety).
When Day One of Nationals was upon us, I was beyond excited. As we started driving down the road to get into Indian Wells Tennis Garden, I have to say that I was in complete awe. It was nothing short of beautiful – lined in palm trees and with mountains everywhere, it was extraordinary. I had also never been to California before, so it was all new, exiting and stunning to me! I will say, though, that it was SO FLAT. Us Pittsburghers are not used to flat landscapes, so that was a bit new but it’s all good! Anyways – back to entering the Garden for the first time. So we walk through the entrance, past the beautiful, perfect tennis courts and there it is…pickleball court after pickleball court, vendor village, championship court and everything in between! It was a sight to behold – it was pickleball paradise!
The planning entities (shout out to the USAPA, IWTG, Margaritaville and Pickleball Tournaments) involved created not only a fantastic event, but a great layout for it, too, with fun, on-site entertainment. Ping pong, corn hole, huge Jenga sets and a photo guest book (there may or may not be a photo featuring GAMMA and Franklin individuals on there) kept everyone entertained during the day. At night, live music could be heard floating through the venue in addition to absolutely FANTASTIC championship matches. That’s the other thing – there really was not one bad match. The competition throughout the week was just so good that no matter what match you watched, no matter what skill level, you were thoroughly entertained. It was awesome to see. It also made me realize that I have A LOT, and I do mean A LOT to work on with my pickleball game…indoor pickleball courts in Pittsburgh, I’m coming for you!
This leads me to the playing and, of course, Team GAMMA! Over the last few months, I’ve been excited to watch our contracted player team and our Brand Partner Program grow. Nationals marked the first time some of us were able to really meet and talk with our new contracted players, and it was so great. We are lucky enough that we have not only great pickleball players in our GAMMA family, but overall great people. Every time I went out to take photos during the week, I would spot one of them or they would come up to me and we’d chat, laugh and cheer on whatever Team GAMMA player was competing on the court. It honestly was sad to see them all leave at the end of the week, especially since the next time we’ll all be together will be at the Open next year. But we’re focusing on happy things here!
I could just keep going about my first Nationals experience because I enjoyed it THAT much, but I’ll end with saying how thankful I am to be part of the pickleball world, and especially the GAMMA family. Between taking photos, managing our social media channels and working the booth during Nationals week, I was able to meet and catch up with individuals from other paddle companies, tournament directors, families I’ve grown to know through my pickleball travels, players and just genuine pickleball lovers and I loved it! That’s a great part of this sport – everyone is so kind and welcoming. I also have to give a shoutout to my GAMMA family that I spent nine days with during this event – it was an absolute blast, you’re all the best and I can’t wait for the Open to do it all again!
When someone hears me say that we’re all a pickleball family, that’s the truth. We may all represent competing companies, but in the end we just want to grow the sport and spread the pickleball love. Oh, and to stay out of the kitchen!