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Meet Joseph Sutton, Outreach Worker to At-Risk Pickleballs

Anyone who regularly hops onto one of the Buy Nothing Maple Leaf Facebook groups knows that there are regulars. The person who gifted you a great set of knives is back on the site again, this time offering up kids’ clothes. Or the guy who let go of his art supplies is now cleaning out his garage and do you want one of his extra hammers? My point is that people don’t usually post the same items, over and over--so when we spotted someone doing just that, we just had to dig deeper.

Joseph Sutton has made and posted “free pickleball sets” more than 3 times and it’s always around 10 sets each time. As one does, I looked up his FB profile and saw that he was from Alabama, works at Pickleball Central and is moving out of Maple Leaf. My curiosity piqued, I messaged him, and he agreed to an interview.

“I came to Maple Leaf to visit my brother during the Pandemic and found myself staying in the house all the time. I started playing pickleball at Reservoir Park and absolutely fell in love with it. Then I got all my friends into it too. Then it was time for me to move back to Alabama.”

So why did you move back to Seattle? “I fell in love with a girl, my brother’s good friend. I got right back into pickleball and loved it so much that I started looking for related work—which I found at Pickleball Central in Kent.

"While there I noticed many still usable but factory-rejected balls were being thrown out. Some had slight paint defects and others were pulled out of a set for a tournament, but all were considered unmarketable.”

I’d gotten my answer. But why was he leaving Maple Leaf?

“I LOVE MAPLE LEAF. It’s my dream neighborhood! It’s a walkable community with a warm, neighborly feeling. You can see the same people walking around the loop at the park every day yet you’re so close to the city and all the opportunities that come with that."

“OK… why are you moving?” I asked.

“It’s a good reason - I’m moving to the Fremont/Wallingford area with said girl (Janece, with Joseph in photo). We’re moving into a small condo. My dream is for us to someday return to Maple Leaf where I can go to the local park and play the game that’s become my life.”

Note: Not only was Joseph generous with his story, but he also even volunteered to give me a free pickleball lesson at Reservoir Park!

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