Pickleball tournament raises thousands for sea turtle center

Registration for the second annual Pickleball for Sea Turtles tournament filled up in just over a week this January, as an increasing number of Gulf County residents and long-term visitors turn to the sport for physical activity that is easier on the joints.

On Saturday and Sunday, after a few months of practice, the teams were ready to compete for the tournament’s turtle-themed medals.

Even the rain, which delayed the start of the tournament by two hours, couldn’t bring down the players’ enthusiasm.

We had a ball this past weekend at our second annual Pickleball for Sea Turtles Tournament at the new courts at Frank Pate Park in Port St. Joe,” wrote the Forgotten Coastal Conservancy, the tournament’s beneficiaries, in a Facebook post. 

“Thank you to our players, referees, volunteers, and supporters for making this such a fun and successful event, and a big congratulations to our winners.”

Karen Quesada and Becky Lacour took home the top prize in the women’s doubles category. Clint Cox and Michael Aiken won the men’s doubles competition, and Steve Culbertson and Deby Revolinski were first in the mixed doubles category.

Food and coffee were provided for the players and spectators by Josie Joe’s Coffee and Dagwood’s Delicatessen, and the FCC set up a booth with merchandise and educational information about sea turtles.

Proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center and other programs run by the Florida Coastal Conservancy.

Jessica Swindall, an employee at FCC, said that the tournament brought in thousands of dollars for the organization. With nesting season starting May 1, Swindall said the funds will help support the organization’s efforts to raise awareness for and protect the county’s nesting sea turtles.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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