Volunteer Spotlight: John Schowalter, Pickleball

By: Abby Murphy 



The events at the State Games are not put on by magic. John Schowalter is one of the many volunteers who helps put on the Meijer State Games of Michigan. Schowalter, age 70, is one of the head volunteers for the pickleball tournament. From registration through the very last pickleball match, Schowalter is working hard and long nights for all the pickleball participants. The Meijer State Games of Michigan pickleball tournament is run basically flawless, due to all his and all the other volunteer’s hard work.

It is not easy to prepare for such a big event. Normally Schowalter works with the Meijer State Games of Michigan, but this year Michigan is holding the State Games of America. He explained how it is much bigger than normal so registration was crazy. The pickleball tournament for State Games of America opened in September and sold out. Due to the increase in demand, Schowalter had to go and find more venues for the athletes to play because the normal site filled up so fast. Schowalter took it all on though, and the team of volunteers successfully got it done.

His favorite part of helping with the pickleball tournament, he explains, “The day of is my favorite part, I can finally see all of the work in action and paying off. The community is so fun and friendly, the day of is just a great time.” He says that, in pickleball, it is a pretty tight knit community so many of the athletes know each other and have great relationships. This makes the tournament much more fun and exciting.

John Schowalter is a retired auctioneer, who simply loves the sport. He is a snowbird, who lives part of the year in Arizona and part of the year in Michigan. In Arizona, he became the president of a pickleball club. He loves the sport so much that he brought it back to West Michigan. He helped grow pickleball in Grand Rapids through the Grand Rapids Pickleball Club, which has grown to over 450 members. He plays just about every day. He loves everything about being there and seeing all the people playing and loving the sport.

When Schowalter is not playing pickleball or helping run pickleball tournaments, he likes to spend time with his wife in their fire house home or with his faith based community. He plans to turn part of that fire house home into a pickleball court for his family and friends to play.

His love for pickleball and dedication to the sport has been an incredible asset for the Meijer State Games of Michigan. He has announced that this will be his last year helping with the tournament, but he knows someone will step up and run it smoothly in the upcoming years.

On behalf of the Meijer State Games of Michigan, thank you John!

To compete in the State Games of America 2017 pickleball tournament, check out pickleball and get registered to play.


Have an interesting story? Email Abby at amurphy@stategamesofmichigan.com