Valhalla Pickleball goes to The Miami Pickle Games

Stepping into The Miami Pickle Games Event, I felt a mix of excitement and anticipation. Not only was I there as a photographer, capturing the essence of the event, but also on a covert mission to continue the introduction of my own pickleball brand to the world.

I had previously attended a Pro pickleball event and a pickleball pop-up during Art Basel, but The Miami Pickle Games Event promised to be an entirely different experience. As a South Florida resident, the event promoters promises of being the premier pickleball party in the country made it a can't-miss opportunity.

Today I made my way South from the Treasure Coast down into the heart of the Gold Coast. As I approached my destination I was greeted by the looming concrete structure known to many as Marine Stadium located in Key Biscayne Miami. Professional photography of the structure itself was a no-go, but I snapped a couple pics with my phone. As I entered the gates of the event I pleasantly surprised to run into the Pickleballin' Lifestyle Club, whom I had crossed paths with at the Pickle Basel event in December. Co-Founders Stephanie Allen-Tunsil and Aisha Stith have opened there club with hubs in both Miami and Atlanta. There mission of bringing diversity to the sport and focus on introducing the black community to pickleball is something we are in full support of and we hit it off immediately as I took the groups pic to start off the day! 

As I may my way into vendor village I was almost immediately greeted by a vibrant young woman showing off some product. Her name was Estefania, and it turns out that in addition to product modeling, she is a passionate fire performer who performs at various venues and events (she was not twirling fire that day unfortunately but we did discuss her dressing as a Viking and twirling fire, which I am super excited to make happen one day). She had an amazing energy and we both were excited at the chance for a future collaboration.

I met the family-owned operation at Killa Dinks and it felt like some long-lost friends. I was first greeted by the matriarch of the family Jennifer Toren, who had a wonderful energy and spirit and is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to promoting the brand aka her family. Barry, whom I immediately hit it off with, was extremely excited for my Viking themed brand and couldn't wait to show his son Griffin. Griffin is the mastermind behind the Killa Dinks brand. Griffin and I chatted about some of the ups and downs of brand building and agreed there was plenty of room for good brands with good messages to exist along side each other. 

Balancing my roles as a photographer and a brand owner proved to be an intriguing challenge. While my primary focus was on capturing the essence of the event, I couldn't resist subtly promoting my brand. Wearing a shirt adorned with my company logo sparked curiosity among fellow attendees, leading to impromptu conversations about my brand's Viking-inspired ethos. As I continued making my my way around and stopped to take pictures of different vendor booths and tables, there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea of a Viking-themed pickleball brand. 

What I love most about pickleball is its social aspect and accessibility. It's a sport that brings people of all ages and backgrounds together, fostering connections and friendships both on and off the court. This sense of community is what drives my passion for pickleball and fuels my vision for my brand.

The Miami Pickle Games Event marked just the beginning of my brand's story. Armed with passion, creativity, and a love for pickleball, I'm eager to see where this journey takes me. As I reflect on my experiences at the event, I'm reminded of the boundless potential that lies ahead in the exciting world of pickleball and beyond.