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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Proposal to make pickleball Washington state sport sent to governor’s desk

Vicki Currer, 72, leaps as she returns the ball while playing a match of pickleball in January at the Hub in Spokane Valley.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Vicki Currer, 72, leaps as she returns the ball while playing a match of pickleball in January at the Hub in Spokane Valley. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Albert James The Spokesman-Review

OLYMPIA – The time-honored, paddle-tastic pastime of pickleball is just one signature away from becoming Washington’s official state sport.

With just a few minutes to spare before a legislative deadline, the state House of Representatives on Friday approved a measure designating pickleball as the state sport. It is now on Gov. Jay Inslee to decide the fate of pickleball as the state sport.

If signed into law, pickleball would join a long list of official state symbols, including Palouse Falls as the state waterfall, the Columbian mammoth as the state fossil and the marmota olympus (Olympic marmot) as the state endemic mammal.

According to the USA Pickleball Association, the sport was created on Bainbridge Island in the summer of 1965 by Washington State Rep. Joel Pritchard – who would later go on to represent the state in Congress and serve as Washington’s Lieutenant Governor.

One day, Pritchard and businessman Bill Bell wanted their families to make use of Pritchard’s badminton court but could not find any badminton equipment. They improvised using some ping-pong paddles, a wiffleball and a modified court. Later, they introduced friend Barney McCallum to their activity, and the three men created rules for the new sport.

Locally, the Eastern Washington University campus will serve as host for USA Pickleball’s Pacific Northwest Diamond Regional Tournament in early July.

Rep. Mike Volz, R-Spokane, said on the floor Friday he would support the measure, but some of his Republican colleagues would vote against it because they didn’t believe it was of the highest priority.

The bill passed the Senate on a 46-1 vote last month.

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