Let me tell you, you are going to need a lot of post-its. I remember the day my boss Mike (Owner & Creative Director of Apple Box Studios, Board President, Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania) came to me and said, “I think I want to put on a Pickleball tournament.” I smiled and nodded- as I normally do with his crazy musings, and sat down at our conference table notebook in hand.

Time for some backstory. Mike had just taken the reigns as President of the Foundation, and had gotten bit by the Pickleball bug about a year ago. Turns out a lot of people with Parkinson’s disease play Pickleball to stay active and to help relieve their symptoms, including Mike’s father.

Our advertising agency works closely with the gang at PFWPA providing their marketing communications needs. In fact I am the Account Manager and was soon to be tasked as the Marketing Director for the Pickleball Tournament that would become a fundraising event.

Gamma Pickleball Classic

So it was January 2016 that we sat down to figure out just how you pull off a major sporting event.

Turns out you need a committee of very helpful volunteers. You need an awesome venue that will pique the interest of players. If you can go ahead and lock-in the award winning, LEED Certified Convention Center of your city’s Downtown, then you are looking pretty snazzy.

David L. Lawrence Convention Center

You need marketing materials and sponsorship packages. You’ve gotta make those calls and get the corporate sponsors to see your vision. You need a really bangin’ website and you need to be able to handle the avalanche of information that comes with player sign-ups and scheduling tournament brackets.

There is the coordination of blocked hotel rooms and player swag bags. Just like with children’s parties, if you sign up for a sporting event these days you are walking away with a goody bag. There are social media demands. Facebook pages, Twitter handles to create. Heard around the office, “who’s going to be tweeting as the Pickleball tournament?”

There are vendor booths to fill and photographers to book. Catering needs – all the while you are trying to negotiate best pricing for your non-profit agency. There’s volunteer staff to mobilize and about a hundred phone calls and emails to return in a week. Medals to design and order, t-shirts to create and distribute. Press releases and TV shows to appear on as the hype machine starts to go full swing.

Wayne Dollard & David Von Hofen on WPXI

And we are only in month 3, and there is still a lot to do.

The volunteer committee for this event, The GAMMA Pickleball Classic, www.pickleballclassic.org has been tireless, devoted and nothing short of phenomenal to work with. The money that we raise for the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania will directly impact families in our area. The event itself should be one hell of a show. I hope to see you there!