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Small Town Picklebowl, USA

 

Picklebowl ~ Lake Odessa, USA

Last week Jojo and I set up our pop-up shop at the quaintest pickleball tournament destination we have ever experienced…maybe the quaintest in the world. The Picklebowl had 250 participants and it was held in a very small town called Lake Odessa, Michigan, population of 2,000. It is a beautiful, new pickleball facility with eight individually fenced outdoor courts that was built on the Lake Odessa Fairgrounds in 2017. As we parked our SUV’s, loaded with merchandise, we took a moment to take in our surroundings. We were amidst farm fields, mooing cows in a pasture, a ferris wheel and other midway rides in the distance, the scent of cotton candy in the warm breeze, and we couldn’t help but think of the mantra in the movie Field of Dreams… “If you build it, they will come.” Does it get any better than a pickleball tournament on fairgrounds on a beautiful Pure Michigan summer day? 

Becky + Lo in matching XOXO

While Jojo set up and tended our pop-up shop, I was preparing to compete in the tournament that morning with my friend Becky. We began playing pickleball together over ten years ago. In fact, before we warmed up together we took a quick pic and texted it to pickleball professional, Simone Jardim and said, “thank you Simone for our first lessons over ten years ago—Becky is playing in her first tournament today!” It’s true, Becky is close friends with her from when Simone was the Michigan State University Women’s Tennis Coach, and she often gave us and other friends pickleball lessons. At that time, Simone was living in Michigan and coaching tennis, but she was becoming hooked on pickleball and looking for any excuse to play and teach others the game. Thankfully, we took her up on it!  

Becky and I used to play tennis and pickleball together a few times every week, but the past few years she has been wintering with her husband, a retired football coach, in Bonita Springs, Florida and spending the summers at their lake house on Lake Michigan. So in the last few years, we have only played a dozen times when she is in East Lansing or while visiting her in Florida. We decided to arrive early to have the chance to practice together. As I mentioned this was Becky’s first tournament ever and somehow she remained cool as a cucumber joking around and making our opponents laugh while trying to put everyone at ease. I was my usual anxious pickleball tournament-self trying my best to stay calm. I reminded Becky twice to please pour on the positive affirmations during our matches so that I would play better and not freak out on her. For some reason, my biggest concern whenever I play in tournaments is not letting my partner down.  

Picklebowl with a view of a Ferris wheel

Just as you would imagine in small town Picklebowl, USA, everyone—including all of our opponents—could not have been more friendly, warm, and caring. That’s how we roll in the midwest…we find ways to connect and make fast friends within minutes. If someone gets injured—everyone runs for an ice pack. Lake Odessa is about 45 minutes from where we live in East Lansing, Michigan so a lot of our friends were there to play in the tournament or just cheering on anyone they knew. Becky had a group of about ten friends from Bonita Springs, Florida who were there to play in the tournament and to cheer her on. The pressure was on for me with our unusually large cheering section! I don’t know why I’m building this up….just to let you down. Yep, we did not medal on this particularly spectacular summer day in this friendly round robin format. But more importantly, we did have FUN, we made new friends, and we played really well together. Every match was very close…legit check it out at pickleballtournaments.com. We lost the first 3 matches and ended up winning our 4th…we called it the tin-medal match and you would have thought Becky had won gold! She was so excited to get her first tournament win ever!

Lo + Jojo enjoying some shade

Jodi and I ended the day with a cold beer from the beer tent, and Jodi and her daughter Ella enjoyed the ferris wheel and some cotton candy. Just a blessed, beautiful summer day, surrounded by our family, friends and livestock, no pizzaz or fanfare needed. Our friend Shelly, who also played in the Lake Odessa Picklebowl, when asked if she medaled replied, “my partner was awesome, the donuts were incredible, and the cows mooing while we were playing was surreal…let’s leave it at that.” I have to add that wherever we go, our jojo+lo Pickleball Wear ~ With Flair continues to resonate…big city, or small town fair. Pickleball lovers love our pickleball apparel, designed with our hearts + our love for the entire Pickleball, USA community. Up next, more Michigan fun at the Beer City Open in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Check out our matching hot pink XOXO tanks and new ERNE tees at www.jojoandlo.com and please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. 

 Jojo and Ella conquering the Sizzler!

 

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