Nashville Pickleball Festival set for this weekend, aims to help injured law enforcement

Posted at 4:49 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 21:54:43-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This weekend, pickleball's taking the spotlight in Nashville.

The organizer of the festival has big plans for pickleball in our area. There's also a deeper purpose to a two-day event.

"I look at the sport as one of the great movements in health and wellness," said Billy McGehee. "We're playing. We're growing. Make the statement in Nashville that pickleball is here."

McGehee is no stranger to sports in Nashville.

"I came to Nashville in 1996 to build an arena football team called the Nashville Kats," he said. "Over a period of a few years, it became a best seller in this town. I think the same thing will happen with pickleball."

McGehee is now the founder of Billy McGehee's Wild World of Pickleball. He's making a big push for pickleball in Nashville with The Great American Music City Pickleball Festival on Saturday and Sunday at Centennial Sportsplex. It's not a tournament. It's for anyone to come out and watch and maybe take part.

There are more reasons for this festival, one of which is very close to Randy Sutton.

"I'm a law enforcement veteran myself," Sutton said. "I spent 34 years behind the badge. What ended my career is I suffered a stroke in my police car, right on Las Vegas Boulevard on the famous strip."

Sutton is with the Wounded Blue national charity, helping injured law enforcement find support and resources.

"Many officers are literally thrown away once they become severely injured," said Sutton. "I understand what it feels like to be abandoned by your own city and your own agency."

This festival partnering with the Wounded Blue makes a lot of sense to McGehee.

"A lot of law enforcement are playing," he said.

"Exercise is not only for the physical health, but your emotional well-being as well," Sutton said.

Just like in the days of the Nashville Kats, McGehee's got big plans again.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see in the next few years, 50,000 playing the sport in this area," said McGehee. "We'll make Nashville the music and pickleball capital of the world."

If you're worried about the heat, a lot the courts at the festival will be indoors. A second charity partnered with the Great American Music City Pickleball festival is the Midsouth Liver Alliance.