Franklin Sports Signs Professional Pickleball’s Top Ranked Johnson Family

#1-Ranked JW Johnson, #1-Ranked Jorja Johnson, #2-Ranked Julie Johnson join Franklin Family of Athletes 

Franklin Sports signed the first family of Pickleball, the Johnson family, to an exclusive partnership yesterday. JW Johnson, Joria Johnson and Julie Johnson round out the family’s trifecta of athletes, each signing a deal to design for Franklin while being provided with pickleball gear. The fact is, pickleball was named the fastest growing sport in America, for the second year running. Meaning, since the sport’s invention in 1965 by three Dad’s living on Bainbridge Island in my home state of Washington, the sport has finally exploded across the United States counting nearly 5 million players in 2021, a significant 15% climb from 2020. The Johnson family of athletes has some of the world’s top ranked professional pickleball players and has teamed up with Franklin to spread awareness, to use their products, and to design a signature pickleball paddle. According to the agreement, #1-ranked JW Johnson, age 19, #1-ranked Jorja Johnson, age 15, and #2-ranked Julie Johnson, age 50, will all exclusively use Franklin-designed pickleball gear while competing in Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) and other professional events. The Massachusetts-based sporting goods company was founded in 1946 by Irving Franklin. Today, the well-known brand out of Stoughton, MA has 10,000 products across 10 sports, including the pickleball market they entered in 2017 by inventing the X-40 ball, the Official Ball of USA Pickleball, the national governing body of the popular sport. The Sports Techie community blog chatted with Laura Gainor, Founder of Vossberg Gainor, Pickleball Marketing Agency about the Johnson’s, Franklin’s role helping to grow the sport, and why she believes the growth of the game has skyrocketed, along with sharing a link to USA Pickleball’s – Pickleball Fact Sheet. I have seen plenty of pickleballer’s in action since the before the Pandemic during the ‘70s around the neighborhoods on the Eastside in Redmond, WA, all the way up to 2019 here in Georgia when COVID-19 first struck, and now beyond to the future when the new Franklin paddle in unveiled with the help of the Johnson family next year.

The Franklin X-40 is the official ball of USA Pickleball NGB

Franklin Sports Pickleball Influencers

Franklin has become an equipment leader in the game, with a wide collection of pickleball products – paddles, balls, nets, and more, in five years’ time. This is a testament to the company, leadership and innovation, as well as key marketing and thoughtful distribution. In addition to the Johnson family, the Franklin-sponsored pickleball roster of athletes features Lea Jansen, Christine McGrath and Zane Navratil.

“The Johnson’s have quickly become the first family of professional pickleball with stellar performances throughout their careers, particularly in 2022,” said Adam Franklin, President of Franklin Sports. “We’re thrilled to partner with them as they continue climbing the ranks.”

THE Pickleball Family

“We’re thrilled to announce that we have signed a deal with Franklin Pickleball. Beyond making great paddles, we feel that we share the same values and that we can always rely on their experience.” said Julie Johnson, “We’re looking forward to what’s coming next and excited for these two families to merge into one.”

Image and quote via Laura Gainor, Founder of Vossberg Gainor, Pickleball Marketing Agency, “Me (left) and the Johnson family at The Tennis & Pickleball Club at Newport Beach”

Pickleball Insights

SportsTechie Q & A With /

  • How have the Johnson family impacted the sport of pickleball? – The Johnson family is such an inspirational family to pickleball players of all ages. They continue to lead the way as top-ranked pickleball players and are some of the most approachable people you’ll ever meet as pros and amateurs have the opportunity to watch them play at tournaments across the country. Julie is one of the top-ranked senior pickleball players. You can find her in the winner’s brackets on the pickleball courts and in-between her matches you can find her cheering on both JW and Jorja, in which she even called a timeout once in the middle of her singles match so she could cheer on Jorja on the court next to hers. You can always find Julie’s husband and the kids’ dad, Jack, supporting the entire family as he cheers them on from the sidelines. I know it was a competition to see which paddle company was going to get the opportunity to sponsor one of pickleball’s favorite families and Franklin is the perfect brand for the Johnsons to represent on and off the courts.
  • What role has Franklin Sports played in growing the sport of pickleball? – Franklin is one of the leading brands that is helping spearhead the exponential growth of the game. As a family-owned business and global sporting goods brand, its their mission to get as many people as possible playing the game and particularly lead the way in their youth initiatives to ensure the future is strong for pickleball. Through their pro player sponsorships, involvement in introducing the game to young players and supporting local communities in providing pickleball equipment, we’ll continue to watch the Franklin brand in the headlines as a leader in pickleball.
  • Why do you feel pickleball has become the fastest growing sport in America? (outside of cornhole of course, lol) – Pickleball is fun, social and easy to learn and you can literally setup a court anywhere! It’s very inexpensive to start playing so the sport is accessible to all ages and skill levels. What I love most about the sport and what inspired me to create Pickleball in the Sun, is that all you need to pack in your suitcase is your pickleball paddle and have the chance to play with anyone around the World. Whether you’re going on vacation, visiting family in a different city or on a work trip, you can always rely on looking up where the local pickleball courts are and jump in a game. It’s an incredible lifestyle that you can’t find with any other sport. I’m excited to continue to share some of the best pickleball destinations around the world as more enthusiasts are developing courts and venues to keep up with the growth in the number of players.
  • USA Pickleball fact sheet with stats:
  • “Pickleball is a court sport played on a badminton-sized court with the net set to a height of 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball and composite or wooden paddles about twice the size of ping-pong paddles. It can be played indoors or outdoors and is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. In addition, the game has developed a passionate following due to its friendly, social nature, and its multi-generational appeal.”

Learn about Franklin’s collection of pickleball products at

Sports Techie, Lifetime, Inc. CEO Bahram Akradi just told Fortune, “It’s my belief that pickleball will be the largest participatory sport in the U.S. eventually.” Life Time plans to have 600 pickleball courts by 2023 — more than doubling the current 250. This course correction changes the dynamics of the sport from a multitude of outdoor options to play and practice at, to this addition of more indoor courts by Lifetime, especially helpful when the weather changes over the fall and winter seasons.

Earlier today on a walk around Murphey Candler Park, I pulled my car over and watched four pickleball Queens rally during a fun, competitive and fitness-focused doubles game seen here in this YouTube shorts video.

Pickleball Queens in Action via @THESportsTechie at @SportsTechieNET on Twitter and the ‘Sports Techie’ YouTube channel.

The story here though is about Franklin Sports, an amazing advocate for pickleball and the Johnson family prowness.

Gainor finished out our Q & A with this statement, “Let me know if you need anything else. Thanks for reaching out. I love the Johnson family!”

I told her, it’s very apparent she does love the Johnson’s and pickleball too!

Thank you to Laura for offering her expertise on pickleball and insight about the Johnson’s.

I also have gratitude towards Franklin Sports for sharing this news about the Johnson family with the Sports Techie community as they continue the drive to champion pickleball as an Olympic sport. Read more about the Franklin New York City Open held earlier this year and PPA Franklin Cup Player Rankings.

Be A PickleBaller.

See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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Tags: Sports Techie, sports technology, sports tech