Vienna pickleball players looking for facilities of their own in Fairfax County now have a new club and advocacy group.
Sally Unger, a new ambassador for pickleball in Fairfax County, wants to persuade county officials to further support pickleball players by providing more and better facilities.
She has created the Vienna Pickleball Club, which boasts 92 members, and a pickleball advocacy group called the Fairfax County Advocates for Pickleball (FCAP). The Facebook group notes that the club was started in June.
In Fairfax County, there are zero courts dedicated to pickleball, according to Unger. Instead, players have to adapt the game to tennis courts, which Unger said makes for an inauthentic game. For example, a pickleball net is shorter than a tennis net, and both games have different court lines.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Unger.
FCAP is fighting for a facility pickleball players can claim as their own.
Unger’s three goals upon becoming an ambassador were to create a pickleball club, collect data about pickleball activity in the county and to understand how funding within the county works to ask for more support. She recently sent out a survey measuring trends and demographics within the pickleball community to bring to the county.
While pushing for official pickleball facilities, FCAP is also looking for derelict tennis courts to save and remodel for pickleball play. They are already working with the Town of Vienna to consider resurfacing Vienna’s Glyndon Court into four pickleball courts.
According to Unger, the public reception to the club and the advocacy has been “phenomenal.” One supporter of the group created a GoFundMe to raise money for nets, locks and other court essentials. In less than two weeks, the fundraiser exceeded its $1,600 goal.
Unger also credits some of the sport’s popularity to the pandemic — since the game is played outside and players are relatively distant, it makes for a safe way to stay active.
“It’s a great way to meet people and build a sense of community,” said Unger. “When we’re restricted to our own yards and it’s the only outlet where I have social contact, it keeps me sane.”
Photo by Frankie Lopez/Unsplash
The pandemic hasn’t stopped a Vienna family from selling its new baseball training equipment.
John Morabito and his two sons Nick and Dominic are the three founders behind Perfect Swings USA.
Nick Morabito, the CEO, told Tysons Reporter that the company was going to open in the spring but then faced shipping issues and then decided to wait a little longer when George Floyd’s killing prompted massive protests. “Most of people’s focus was on that, rightly so,” he said.
Currently, Perfect Swings USA is selling the Swing Path Trainer for $349 to help athletes keep the bat in the hitting zone with the proper angle.
“The launch has been good,” Morabito said, adding that the company has sold several dozen Swing Path Trainers.
Morabito said that the company is looking to debut the Tempo Trainer (undecided price) in early fall after some delays due to the pandemic. The tool will help athletes with their tempo and rhythm during a swing.
“Both of our products are tools to help hitters become better,” Morabito said.
While originally geared toward baseball players, Morabito said that softball players are buying the equipment. “We’ve made a huge splash into softball,” Morabito said.
The pandemic also eliminated marketing opportunities by shutting down some tournaments and college baseball programs. “I think a lot of people are drawn to it when they try it out,” he said.
The company hopes to soon roll out an online search feature for people to find which facilities have the equipment, so they can try it out.
Even with the challenges, the company has managed to make some headway nationally with preorders from colleges and influencers in California and Colorado.
In the future, customers will be able to buy a variation of a baseball called a wiffle ball. When the COVID-19 risk decreases some more, the family hopes to bring Perfect Swings USA to local tournaments.
“I think it’s going to continue to grow,” he said.
Photo courtesy Nick Morabito
Background Checks on Gun Sales — “A Virginia judge has ruled that most of the state’s new law requiring background checks on all gun sales does not violate constitutional rights, except for a wrinkle that effectively bans people between the ages of 18 and 21 from buying handguns.” [Inside NoVa]
ICYMI: Vienna Wawa Opens Today — “Wawa is encouraging people to watch a celebratory video and take part in an online contest for limited-edition Vienna Wawa t-shirts.” [Tysons Reporter]
No High School Football This Fall — “Football will be either played in the winter or spring or not at all, based on which of three plans the Virginia High School League’s executive committee approves July 27 for the 2020-21 high school sports season. The July 27th meeting convenes at 9 a.m.” [Inside NoVa]
Vienna Event — “A panel held by Town Manager Mercury Payton Tuesday night started a conversation on the Black experience in Vienna. Several Town of Vienna workers and residents who are Black participated in the discussion.” [Vienna Patch]
Photo courtesy Jeremiah Mosteller
Baseball Blues — “Two of the three local Little Leagues in the Sun Gazette’s coverage areas canceled their 2020 spring seasons in recent days, with McLean Little League still hoping to play some type of regular season for baseball and girls softball teams in June and July.” [Inside NoVa]
Puppy Sale Fraud in Vienna — “A woman who does not live in Virginia told Vienna police on May 23 at 5:34 p.m. that she had made an online payment to purchase a puppy and was told to go to a residence in the 400 block of MacArthur Avenue, N.E., to pick up the dog.” [Inside NoVa]
Northam Outlines Phase 2 — “Most of Virginia will enter a second phase of reopening from the prolonged coronavirus shutdown on Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam said… Both Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond, which were hit harder by the novel coronavirus and began reopening last week, will remain under the more stringent Phase 1 portion of the state’s plan to return to normalcy.” [Washington Post]
Pledge to End Racial Inequalities — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam pledged Tuesday to do more to end racial inequities in the state as he reacted to the death of George Floyd and increasing protests in Northern Virginia and other regions of the state.” [Inside NoVa]
County Aiming to Get 400 New Contact Tracers — “GattiHR, a leading HR consulting firm, has been retained by the Institute for Public Health Innovation – one of the region’s leading health organizations that develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia- to recruit 400 COVID-19 Contact Tracers in Fairfax County, VA.” [GattiHR]
Sorry, No Sports — “The Virginia High School League’s Executive Committee voted Thursday to cancel the spring sports season altogether for rest of the 2019-20 calendar year due to the coronavirus outbreak.” [Inside NoVa]
Vienna Hosting Free Small Business Webinar — “Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Vienna-based Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, will lead the first online discussion from 10-11 am Wednesday, May 13.” [Town of Vienna]
Tysons Area ABC Stores Offering Curbside Service — “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) is now offering curbside pickup for online orders at 15 stores in Northern Virginia.” The list includes two in Vienna (8413 Old Courthouse Road and 436 Maple Ave E.), Falls Church (7121 Leesburg Pike) and McLean (1445-B Chain Bridge Road). [Inside NoVa]
Editor’s note: Tysons Reporter will temporarily have “Morning Notes” every weekday instead of twice a week to accommodate more news.
Looking for Senior Store Hours? — Fairfax County launched a new interactive map that lets people find stores that have shopping hours dedicated to seniors to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus to elderly people. [Fairfax County]
Don’t Take Me Out to the Ball Game — “By this time of the early spring season, the area’s three Little League programs would have held opening-day ceremonies… None of that has occurred, because all activities in the Great Falls, McLean and Vienna Little League programs have been suspended until at least May 11 and likely longer.” [Inside NoVa]
Documenting Your Documents — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue shares tips for how people can get their medical information ready in case of an emergency. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Q&A With Local Restaurant — Northern Virginia Magazine’s new “Table for None” column focused on how a Falls Church Italian restaurant is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Empty Merrifield Campus to Become Field Hospital — “Northam said on Wednesday the former ExxonMobil campus in Merrifield owned by Inova Health System will be one of three field hospital locations in Virginia as it faces a surge in coronavirus cases.” [Washington Business Journal]
Booze To-Go — “[Gov. Ralph Northam] announced during a news conference Wednesday that restaurants with a mixed-beverage license from the ABC can start selling mixed-beverages for takeout and delivery. That change will become effective Thursday at midnight. Restaurants previously were allowed to sell only wine and beer through takeout and delivery.” [Inside NoVa]
A Wind Advisory has been issued for northern and central MD, northern VA, and the northern/central VA Blue Ridge from 10 AM to 5 PM Thursday. Sustained winds of 20-30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph are expected. pic.twitter.com/pC0XVkzb8r
— National Weather Service Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) April 9, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on baseball season, but a Vienna family won’t let the virus strike its plans to launch a business selling baseball training equipment.
John Morabito, 53, and his two sons Nick, 27, and Dominic, 25, are the three founders behind Perfect Swings USA.
John, who grew up in McLean, told Tysons Reporter that he has been coaching baseball in McLean and Vienna since 1991. Nick and Dominic both grew up playing sports in Vienna, he added.
All three men have played at the collegiate level and have coached teams from little league to minor league players, according to the company’s website.
Now, they are looking to sell hitting tools — the Swing Path Trainer and the Tempo Trainer — to help players improve.
Turning Their Passion Into New Products
Nick told Tysons Reporter that his family came up with the idea for the tools about 10 years ago to help him and his brother get better at baseball.
“Before we ever became a business, bringing homemade Swing Path Trainers around got great feedback from baseball and softball coaches,” Nick said.
The family originally developed the trainers from PVC pipe and wood they got at Home Depot, he said.
“We had no aspirations of turning it into what it is today,” Nick said. But that changed after Dominic graduated and encouraged his family to turn their idea into the business.
“[Dominic] was either like, ‘I’m going to find a corporate job or let’s start this business,'” Nick said. “My dad was getting ready to retire… We took this on full time.”
In the last year, they’ve been working with an engineer and Boston-based Gamut Run Partners, LLC. Nick said that they have three patents for their products.
The family started to manufacture the products about a year ago, Nick said. Since then, they’ve showcased the trainers at conventions around the U.S. late last year and early 2020, according to the website.
The Swing Path Trainer ($349) helps the athlete to keep the bat in the hitting zone with the proper angle, while the Tempo Trainer (undecided price) helps the athlete’s tempo and rhythm during a swing, according to their product descriptions.
“It’s almost like a self coach for the kid or the trainer or the coach,” Nick said, adding that the products help improve players’ swing mechanics.
The products are geared towards little leaguers all the way through high school and college, Nick said, adding that “everybody” can use the products.
While they haven’t sold any of the products yet, Nick said that they have given four away — one to the UCLA softball team, another to a high school in California, a third to a man who runs a show in Texas and the fourth to “my little cousin.”
In the future, Nick said they are looking to release more products and features in the future once they finalize prototyping.
Challenges of Starting a Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Trying to start up the business has been challenging at times for the family.
Production, which involves some parts that come from China, was delayed earlier this year due to a shutdown for Chinese New Year and then slow down several weeks later to add extra precautions for workers due to the coronavirus, he said.
“We’re supposed to go into production tomorrow to start shipping May 1,” he said.
While they are aiming to start selling the products in May, that date could change. “It’s been hard to finalize and put on a date on anything,” he said.
The pandemic affected their plans to travel to conventions and tournaments around the U.S., he added.
As for marketing, Nick said that he’s trying to get the word out in magazines and publications, but has faced some challenges with collegiate baseball publications now that the season is over.
The biggest challenge, though? Nick said that making changes to the products within certain timeframes has been hard.
“We’ve run through six to seven different prototypes,” he said. “This is new for us.”
Despite their obstacles, Nick is staying optimistic.
“We’ll get through this,” he said, adding that coaches might have more time now to watch product demos than if they were traveling with their teams during the season.
Working as a Team
The whole family works together on the new business, Nick said, adding that most of the financial investments have come from him and his father.
“Dad kind of oversees everything,” he said. “He’s mentoring us along.”
While Nick focuses on the sales and marketing side, he said his brother takes care of the operations and engineering while his mom asks people for reviews and manages the product photo shoots.
“We’re a local family. We have a lot of great relationships with local little leagues,” Nick said. “We’re looking to give back.”
Photos courtesy Nick Morabito
Happy Friday! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:
Inova Announced New Hospital Visitor Policy — “Inova Health System announced changes… effective at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 12. The health system changed the policy ‘to protect the health and safety of our patients, their families and staff from the spread of COVID-19.’ The restrictions apply even to visitors who are healthy.” [Patch]
Vienna Officials Praise Low Rate for Bond Sale — “Vienna officials on March 10 issued $34.5 million in general-obligation bonds that will pay for public improvements, including a new police station. The town accepted an interest-rate bid of 1.86 percent from J.P. Morgan Securities, as well as a $3.1 million premium, which is a bonus offered by the investment firm to the town.” [Inside NoVa]
Immigrants Contribute Billions to NoVa Economy — “A new report on the impact of immigrants in Northern Virginia found they are injecting $57.7 billion into the local economy — accounting for more than a quarter of the region’s $224.9 billion gross domestic product.” [Inside NoVa]
There is no higher priority than the health and wellness of our guests, employees, retailers, and communities. That’s why we are monitoring the current situation of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and taking protective actions. To learn more, visit https://t.co/Wup8vbctAP
— Tysons Corner Center (@ShopTysons) March 10, 2020
The Great Eight snapped a photo with local firefighters responding to a call at a house near his own in the McLean area.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue tweeted out the photo this morning (Friday). The firefighters were all smiles with Caps star Alexander Ovechkin, sporting a hooded Nike sweatshirt, posing in the middle.
“Yesterday after a false alarm next door, this really GR8 neighbor checked in with E442, Wolftrap, to make sure all was well,” the tweet said.
The Washington Capitals captain lives about two miles north of Tysons.
Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter
The Super Bowl is this Sunday, meaning either the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs will become the NFL’s latest champion.
This year’s Super Bowl, though, isn’t just about the game on Sunday.
Fox, the Super Bowl’s host, is running a campaign to extend Sunday festivities into “Super Monday” — an unofficial holiday giving football fans and Fox viewers a chance to win $10,000, Adweek reported.
“The network’s ‘Super Monday’ campaign, which kicked off during the final weekend of the NFL regular season on Dec. 29, features the ‘Mayor of Monday’ (played by Saturday Night Live alum Finesse Mitchell, who appears in Fox’s new sitcom, Outmatched) telling sluggish office workers that he has created a new holiday,” according to Adweek.
What are your plans? Will you be observing “Super Monday” or heading back into the office? Let us know in the poll below.