Humana is Bringing Pickleball to the National Mall Featuring Celebrities and Major League Pickleball

Humana is Bringing Pickleball to the National Mall Featuring Celebrities and Major League Pickleball

For nearly the past year, I’ve truly enjoyed creating this Pickleball Marketing Newsletter each week. It’s become a valuable avenue for me to reconnect with former marketing colleagues and clients who are deeply involved in brand activations within the fastest-growing sport in America.

Among these agencies is GMR Marketing, a firm that played a pivotal role in shaping my experiential marketing career. I had the privilege of contributing to remarkable programs alongside some of the industry’s most esteemed marketing leaders.

Today, I’m excited to share a remarkable collaboration between Humana and the Trust for the National Mall, aimed at bringing Pickleball to the heart of the National Mall.

From September 28th – 30th, nine temporary pickleball courts will grace the JFK Hockey Fields, adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

This three-day extravaganza is entirely free and designed for public participation. Attendees can look forward to an array of engaging programs, including celebrity matches featuring the likes of Katie Couric and Rob Riggle, on-site pickleball lessons and clinics, exhibition matches with Major League Pickleball’s D.C. Pickleball Team, an “in the kitchen” cooking demo with Tiffany Benjamin, and much more.

“At its core, Humana is committed to championing seniors, promoting healthy and active lifestyles, and fostering social connections,” said Bruce Broussard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Humana. “We are excited to bring pickleball—an accessible, inclusive and friendly sport—to one of the most special places in our country where everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to connect, be active, and live their healthiest life.”

The reservations for court time and clinics are already full, but visit their website for more details about all of the free events that are open to the public and view the full schedule of events below.

This pop-up event serves as a stellar illustration of how brands can leverage pickleball to align with their core values and cultivate community engagement. It exemplifies a creative and strategic approach to marketing and brand development, leaving enthusiasts eagerly anticipating future events hosted by Humana.

Pickleball at the National Mall Schedule of Events 

Carvana PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball Announce Full Merger to Form a Unified Professional Pickleball Organization

Carvana PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball Announce Full Merger to Form a Unified Professional Pickleball Organization

Major League Pickleball and the PPA Tour have announced a merger that is backed by $50M investment led by private equity firm SC Holdings and Financier/MLP Team Owner Al Tylis, along with PPA Tour Owner Tom Dundon and various MLP team owners.

I will share more in the days and weeks ahead as we learn more information about the merger and the future of professional pickleball.

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AUSTIN and DALLAS, TX., September 13, 2023 — Today, leading professional pickleball organizations MLP by Margaritaville (MLP) and Carvana PPA Tour (PPA Tour) announced an agreement to merge under a unified and definitive professional pickleball holding company. The consolidation of the two entities is backed by a $50M investment from SC Holdings, D.C. Pickleball Team owner Al Tylis, PPA Tour owner Tom Dundon, and a roster of existing MLP team owners.

The new combined organization will provide players, fans, and sponsors with the benefits of a streamlined schedule and single entity overseeing the two still-distinct brands. The merger combines the leading individual and team-based professional pickleball formats into a single parent company, equally supporting and promoting both MLP and the PPA Tour. The new holding company will provide players and sponsors great confidence and opportunity in the future of professional pickleball.

The PPA Tour is the traditional, bracket-style tour format that determines the best players in the world and showcases individual athletes and their unique journeys to reach the top.

MLP is the innovative team-based, coed league format that brings thrilling fan-centric experiences and competition throughout the regular season and championships.

“As professional pickleball continues to rapidly grow, we could not be more excited to provide both players and fans with the clarity and consistency of a unified professional pickleball organization,” said Major League Pickleball Founder Steve Kuhn. “This merger will expand and improve opportunities for current and future players, creating a united experience and a better future playing professional pickleball.”

“Over the past few years, we have seen ever-increasing interest from investors, sponsors, fans and players who understand the immense value in the future of professional pickleball,” said PPA Tour owner Tom Dundon. “The holding company unifying the PPA Tour and MLP will create a streamlined sport for fans and add more meaningful opportunities for player competition, broadcasting rights and sponsorship throughout the professional pickleball calendar.”

Professional pickleball fans will now be able to watch both exciting formats and the best players in the sport competing under one competitive umbrella, with the new unified organization boasting over 150 of the leading professional pickleball players and an extensive calendar of team and individual events throughout the year.

The parent company’s board of directors and team owners include an impressive roster of business leaders, leading investors and professional athletes. The new board of directors will include: Jason Stein from SC Holdings, D.C. Pickleball Team owner Al Tylis, PPA Tour owner Tom Dundon, MLP founder Steve Kuhn , and former Goldman Sachs Partner Brian Levine.

PCKL Interview: A Marketing Agency Just for Pickleball?

PCKL Interview: A Marketing Agency Just for Pickleball?

One year after launching Vossberg Gainor, she officially transitioned her business to solely be focused on pickleball marketing. The only agency of it’s kind, having worked with some of the leading pickleball brands in the U.S. including USA Pickleball, Pickleball Magazine and others.

In the last two years she has helped bring pickleball into the spotlight as the fastest growing sport with USA Pickleball and Pickleball Magazine being featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, USA TODAY, The New York Times, CNBC, among other national media outlets.

After more than 3 years experience building credibility and expertise in the pickleball marketing space, she now works with multiple brands and focuses on Pickleball in the Sun, a lifestyle and leisure brand launched by Vossberg Gainor. You can regularly find her playing on her local Nocatee community courts and enjoying the sunshine with her husband Brian and kids, Clara and Garrett.

Laura Gainor Guest Interview on Building Pickleball: Bringing Pickleball Mainstream

Laura Gainor Guest Interview on Building Pickleball: Bringing Pickleball Mainstream

Laura Gainor, founder of Vossberg Gainor, had the opportunity to be a guest on the Building Pickleball Podcast to share her story about finding her own pickleball marketing agency, launching a pickleball lifestyle and leisure brand, Pickleball in the Sun, and helping to bring pickleball mainstream over the last 3+ years.  

Laura and podcast host, Brian Lim, chat about the media opportunities she coordinated at her local courts with Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News, celebrity cover stories like Maren Morris playing pickleball on tour and being featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and why LinkedIn has been a valuable tool for her businesses and in helping to grow the sport.

Listen to the full episode below.

The Vossberg Gainor team is growing. Welcome, Nick!

The Vossberg Gainor team is growing. Welcome, Nick!

Vossberg Gainor is excited to welcome experienced communications and PR professional Nick Liberati to the Vossberg Gainor and Pickleball in the Sun team as a consultant!

Nearly 40 million people hit the pickleball courts last year, adding to the game’s already exploding popularity as America’s fastest-growing sport and the influx of big name celebrities, athletes, and TV networks that just keep on coming. Pickleball shows no signs of slowing down, nor do the business opportunities for brands looking to get in on the action and connect with pickleball’s diverse, passionate community.

Since its launch in 2019, Vossberg Gainor has been guiding brands, organizations, and individuals who wish to do just that, while also helping people across the country find and experience unique travel destinations centered around pickleball through its sister company, Pickleball in the Sun. With a rapidly growing client-base and exciting new partnership opportunities on the horizon (more to come on that soon!), demand for both services has quickly taken off.

“I am thrilled to have Nick join the team as PR and Communications Consultant,” said Laura Gainor, founder of Vossberg Gainor and Pickleball in the Sun. “Nick’s background, experience, and passion for pickleball will help shape and further strengthen the communications and media relationships capabilities we provide, as both companies continue to grow and evolve within America’s fastest-growing sport. Please join me in welcoming Nick and learning a little more about him, his background, and love for the sport of pickleball!”

About Nick

  • Nick has over 10 years experience leading all aspects of communications and public relations, from new product launches and demand generation programs to major partnership announcements and acquisitions.

  • Nick helped the team at PKL Boston open the city’s first pickleball bar and restaurant last year by landing several feature stories, including national coverage on CBS Saturday Morning!

  • He currently runs communications for a cleantech company that helps people learn about and comparison-shop quotes for energy products like solar panels, batteries, and heat pumps.
  • He grew up in New York and now lives in Boston with his wife Rebecca and their two-year old son, Leo.

Why he loves pickleball

  • Nick was first introduced to pickleball over 17 years ago in high school gym class and has been playing ever since! 

  • Like so many others during the pandemic, Nick found himself playing more and more. As pickleball evolved from a niche sport into a booming business, he decided to make some connections with folks working in the industry to combine his passion for the game with his professional expertise. The opportunity to work alongside Laura and the team allows him to do just that!