Founders of, John and Karen Whitaker are Promoting Pickleball through Apparel

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,over two million new players became engaged in this sport. With rapid growth comes some growing pains; in this instance a lack of dedicated quality pickleball apparel was unable to keep up with the new demand.  John and Karen Whitaker, self-proclaimed “pandemic picklers,” created a pickleball clothing brand of their own,

The couple developed an interest in the game during the pandemic and created a community of pickleball enthusiasts. Their local “paddle club” is only eight months old but already features 700+ members. It was during this strange time in history that Karen noticed a void of quality pickleball apparel. Pickleball players seemed to wear a mishmash of clothing from other sports. Pickleball didn’t have a look of its own yet; to get a better insight into the unique nature of the game, she visited professional players, instructors, and ambassadors and got an idea of what clothing was more representative of pickleball rather than “racquet sports” in general. 

In addition to the quality of the apparel, there was also the desire to highlight the personality indicative of pickleball. One of the sport’s outstanding traits is its social aspect. Because the game is played on a court roughly ⅓  the size of a tennis court, players are close to one another during the game and frequently spend hours upon hours literally face-to-face competing with one another. There seems to be an insatiable aspect of the game that keeps people playing “one more game” despite any physical exhaustion. “For as competitive as this sport can be, I’ve never experienced so much laughter and camaraderie during and after a match.” explains Karen. Pickleball has language and terminology of its own that needed to be represented; “I love it” adds John, “dinks, ATP’s, Erne’s, NVZ, kitchen, flabjacks, it’s a continually building vocabulary.” And, it appears that players agree – some of the more popular items in the offering feature the pickler vocabulary.

With the brand and the designs in hand, it was time for a mascot to represent on sight. Thus the birth of “Sluggo,” to symbolize the fierce competitiveness of pickleball players, their passion for the sport, and the willingness to take on “ONE MORE GAME.” The game became their passion, and they have turned it into a business to help others Live, Love, and Play it. 

Check out their online store for more pickleball products.

About author


Rachel is a research professor at the University of California where she holds the Radcliffe Foundation at The Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past three decades studying courage,and empathy. Rachel Alba is the author of seven bestselling novels.
Rachel Alba
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