Some names are just synonymous with the sport of pickleball. Simone Jardim is one of those names. In fact, we could probably just say Simone and that would be enough, as she is one of those players that is so solidified in the sport that she only needs one name. I mean, can you think of a top-level pickleball tournament in the past five years where Simone hasn’t been playing in the pro women’s doubles final or pro mixed doubles final, or both?!
Simone’s on-court accolades speak for themselves, which include multiple golds at just about every pickleball tournament you can think of. However, Simone is also busy promoting the sport of pickleball behind the scenes—from teaching, to advocating for players (including equal pay for pro women players and pro men players), to a new endeavor… the Simone Jardim Foundation.
The Simone Jardim Foundation is a new non-profit organization that was sparked into existence just this past February 2021, after Simone’s son, Landon (age 7), played with a group of junior pickleball players at Simone’s namesake tournament in Tampa, Florida. Simone was stunned on her drive home from the tournament when Landon said, “Mom, you need to play pickleball with us,” as, before that moment, he had never taken an interest in the sport for more than 15 minutes at a time. The power of play, and a few role models in the sport closer to Landon’s age, lit a new passion for pickleball in 7-year-old Landon.
Seeing this play out, Simone saw firsthand with her son how powerful junior pickleball play could be to the growth of the sport. She also saw a need, as she felt junior pickleball players were underserved and lacked mentorship. To fill this need, Simone created the Simone Jardim Foundation, which promotes the growth of youth pickleball by providing training and mentorship opportunities for junior players, and by offering monetary grants to these junior players to make these opportunities more accessible. Simone, herself, attends the training events and makes herself as available as possible to help mentor and guide these young pickleball players.
As you can tell, the Simone Jardim Foundation is currently focused on growing youth pickleball. Junior pickleball is a gateway to a more exciting game, as more youth players will transform into more younger professionals with more athleticism, more creative shots, more excitement, and, ultimately, more marketability and more exposure that will drive the growth of the sport forward and help promote longevity in pickleball. Once Simone tackles the growth of youth pickleball, she could use her foundation to tackle another need to grow the sport of pickleball.
In discussing the foundation with Simone, one interesting point Simone made is that she acts and does things out of emotion. Clearly, Simone was immediately moved by this experience in Tampa, Florida, and is very passionate about junior pickleball and its importance to the growth of the sport, as less than five months later (on top of her busy tournament schedule), Simone has created a foundation, held her first fundraising event, organized a training camp to promote youth pickleball, and is busy planning another fundraising event and training camp for the fall of 2021.
We all can likely relate to Simone on the emotion that the sport of pickleball evokes from us. As we at Pickler say, “Pickleball. More than a sport.™” Because it’s true! Pickleball is about more than on-court play. It is about the community and everything that goes along with it, which includes (and hopefully will continuously include more and more) junior pickleball players.
Although it is just the beginning for the Simone Jardim Foundation, what Simone is embarking to do with her foundation to grow youth pickleball, and, ultimately, the entire sport of pickleball, is admirable. Between her passionate work with the foundation and her other off-court efforts to promote the sport of pickleball, by the end of her pickleball career, it just may be what Simone is doing off the court, rather than on the court, that leaves a more impactful and lasting legacy.
If you are a junior pickleball player and would like to apply for a grant from the Simone Jardim Foundation, or if you are looking to donate or otherwise get involved with the Simone Jardim Foundation, email email@example.com.