Kristen and Jeremy West.


The pickleball courts at Scottsdale McCormick Ranch were alive with the sounds of laughter, when Hopi Elementary PTA members joined together to compete for the grand prize – a golden pickle statue. 

The Hopi PTA spent time brainstorming ways to raise money for staff, students and programs, and at the annual Hawktion, they suggested various events that the community bid on. 

On this list was a chili cook-off and a pickleball tournament. After attendees cast their votes and bids were in, the Pickleball Palooza won. The event was held in November and was a massive success.

This year’s Hawktion raised more than $120,000, which helped the organization put on the competition for 20 teams.

Each year, The PTA throws movie marathons, golf tournaments and bingo nights that provide the school community an opportunity for family fun. 

PTA member Laina Freedberg said the Pickleball Palooza was a unique way to introduce families to one another.

“Every year, Hopi families try to develop interesting parties, whether it’s for each grade or some new and exciting things for parents. It’s a great way to meet new people and convey a sense of community,” Freedberg said.

“We had some new-to-Hopi families at the event, too, and I think it was good to be together and to be able to meet and welcome them to our neighborhood,” PTA President Megan Livengood said. “The game of pickleball itself is entertaining. Anyone can do it – you don’t have to be an expert.”

Pickleball is played on a court and is similar to other racquet sports like badminton and tennis. The court is separated into six zones – three on each side of the net. 

The game uses paddles and pickleballs, slightly heavier versions of typical whiffle balls. The first team to eleven points wins, as long as the opposing team isn’t within two points of them. 

There were two brackets, one for experienced players and one for those just learning the game.

Three awards were given out at the end of the tournament. The final winner received a golden pickle award, and the two other awards were “Best Dressed” and “World’s Okayest Pickleballer.” These winners received t-shirts emblazoned with their titles.

Whether the team was there to win, learn about the game or just have fun, Livengood said the event succeeded. 

Hopi’s PTA is looking for new volunteers who would like to join the association. Livengood said that the PTA helps ensure the elementary school runs smoothly and can succeed.  

“Our motto for 2021 was ‘shine bright and soar high.’ I think everything our volunteers do for Hopi is so that our students, teachers and staff can do just that,” Livengood said.