Today the Venice Paparazzi Spotlight shines on Pop Paddle Venice!
Venice Paparazzi’s “In the Spotlight” is an interview series that highlights people and organizations in the Venice community. The purpose is to shine a light on all the positive things being done by the fantastic folks in our town!
Let’s get to know Pop Paddle Venice!
Tell us about your organization:
We act as a liaison between the Venice Beach paddle courts and Venice Beach Recreation and Parks. If there are nets to be repaired or any court issues, we contact the city for help. Pre-pandemic, we organized the city paddle tennis tournaments – something we hope will return now that Covid restrictions are lifting.
Who helps run the organization and who participates?
The organization is run by a core group of five individuals along with many dedicated volunteers who help with tournaments throughout the year.
The core group is comprised of Katrina Glusac, Christine Lee, Leslie Martino, Mike Rogers and Daniel Wulff. The participants are paddle players of all levels who LOVE the pace and energy that the sport provides.
How long has your group been around? Why and how did you get started? Where did the idea or inspiration come from?
Pop Paddle Venice was founded in May 2019. A Cinco de Mayo tournament was fast approaching and a group of us came together to make the tournament happen. There had been very little participation in the city tournaments previously and we wanted to make sure that this one a success. In 5 days or so, we made tee shirts and 62 participants showed up to play for the one day tournament. From there, we built on our momentum and held 4 more tournaments the summer of 2019 with increased participation in each one. In 2019, there were two additional members of the team – Sam Yuspeh and Gino Bejarano.
How many events have your hosted? Share us one of your favorite event/memories.
We hosted 5 tournaments in 2019 and were planning on an additional 5 tournaments for 2020 and then Covid hit. Each tournament is a little different: Our first tournament was Davis Cup style where we divided everyone into teams and played round robin. Other tournaments featured Singles with a day of Mixed Doubles or a tournament devoted solely to doubles. We also planned a tournament that included pairing teams up with Seniors as well as holding kids clinics during the lunch hour so that our community could cheer on the next generation while taking a break from all of the competition. We want to continue to build on the multi-generational appeal of paddle.
We think our favorite tournament was the very first one that we hosted, “Cinco De Mayo” in 2019 because of the way our group came together and because our community absolutely loved it. That enthusiasm fuelled our desire to host four more. We even created a 70s style tournament where everyone dressed up in vintage styles and played paddle to music of that era. That was beyond fun!
View video of Pop Paddle Venice in action!
How does your organization/events give back to the community?
Probably the biggest way we give back is by attempting to create a cohesive community. We are constantly welcoming new players to the sport and we try to promote a friendly environment where people can make new friends – particularly after the pandemic restrictions over the last year. Everyone wants to find a safe and healthy way to connect with others and what better way than through a sport?
We also promote small businesses who support our tournaments. Since the city does not allow any patrons or businesses to offer cash prizes, our team asks local businesses to donate gift cards, certificates or actual goods or services to our players in exchange for exposure during our events. We find that most people play our tournaments for the mere fun of it but being able to offer a small prize and create connections with our businesses makes our entire community stronger.
How are you surviving Covid-19 and the lockdowns? What moves or pivots has your organization made?
Well, we survived the lockdown of the city courts by creating our own courts in the Venice Beach parking lot. We taped off lines and purchased nets. We played street paddle in other parking lots and Venice laneways. It was a scary and surreal time and it was very important for everyone’s mental well-being to be able to continue to exercise. It was actually a lot of fun to play in the parking lot. Just a lot of long distance ball chasing but no one seemed to mind.
As restrictions lifted, we were very lucky in that our courts were opened long before many of the others such as the handball and basketball courts. During the pandemic, at first the courts were restricted to singles and then doubles with family members. Our courts became very popular with many new players discovering our sport and quickly becoming paddle converts. Many people who discover paddle tennis have played traditional tennis but it is by no means necessary. Anyone who has a desire to play can easily pick up a paddle and start hitting. The courts are much smaller and being able to hit ground strokes as well as volleys makes this sport fast and fun.
What support do you need? How can one help your organization?
The greatest need right now at the VB paddle courts is to replace the fences. They have fallen into disrepair over the last few years. If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to help with the fence replacement, they can contact Melody Valenzuela at Venice Rec. & Park – [email protected]. A donation form needs to be completed with the following information:
- Donor Name:
- Telephone Number:
- Description of Donation:
- Value of Donation:
Anything else that you want to share with our readers? Announcements, accomplishments, awards received, upcoming events, etc
We love our paddle courts. Venice Beach is the “mecca of paddle.” These historic courts are nearing their 50th Anniversary and we are working hard to insure that our 11 paddle courts always remain paddle courts.
Any shout outs or thank you’s?
A big shout out to all of our previous sponsors! Acutonix Wellness, ArcLight Cinemas Santa Monica, Baja Cantina MDR, Barry’s Bootcamp, Bellissimo, Blue Lane, Big Daddy’s Pizza, Bolour Immigration Group, Bowl Kitchen, Brooke Gregson Jewelry, Bulldog Realtors, Burgers N Brew, Centurion Lifestyle, Crexi, Cryosoul, Cycle Bar, Dr. Cory, Dr. Refresh, Drink Recover, DropShot, Espresso Yo’Self, Great White, Hotel Erwin, Jordan’s Jewels & Things, Joy Ride Santa Monica, Mobot Nation, Muscle Beach, One Energy Bar, Pono Kai Beachwear, Popplaya, Robin Raf, Shaydee Umbrella, Sidewalk Cafe, Show Me Your Mumu, Sports Mania, Starbucks, Simmzy’s, Studio MDR, Surfside Venice, The Butcher’s Daughter, The Venice Farmer’s Market, Tumbleweed & Dandelion, Vitalyte and Zinqué
A big thank you to all of our amazing volunteers! You know who you are and we appreciate all of your support!
Fan and follow Pop Paddle Venice on Instagram!
Join Pop Paddle Venice at the US Open Nationals at the Venice Beach Paddle Courts on the weekend of November 6-7, 2021.
Register online at www.streetpaddle.co.