31 Days of Dry January, 61 Hours of Pickleball Playing

31 Days of Dry January, 61 Hours of Pickleball Playing

I did it! I committed to Dry January. All 31 days and in those 31 days, I played pickleball for 61 hours!

The initial reasoning was to participate in a challenge with friends and see if I had enough will power to resist a glass of wine for a whole month, to feel better playing on the pickleball court, add in some more strength workouts for my pickleball partner and I to up our game as we prep for tournaments! 

There were many touch and go situations with being with friends and wanting nothing more than to enjoy laughing with a glass of wine or two, or a stressful day that I thought would feel better if I could sip a glass, a Saturday night on the pickleball courts, or out to dinner with friends, a boat cruise enjoying the weather, sitting in the hot sun and dreaming of a mimosa….all of it. But I stayed strong and picked up some good habits along the way to be able to enjoy a glass here and there even more! And also knowing it’s OK to have a La Croix instead 😉  

So after 31 days, I put in those 61 hours of pickleball playing feeling better, 13 strength workouts at 5am with my tournament partner, and excited to knock out more goals as we have hit tournament month! 

The Economist: Pickleball is the Fastest-Growing Sport in America

The Economist: Pickleball is the Fastest-Growing Sport in America

We recently spoke with The Economist with USA Pickleball CEO, Stu Upson, to talk about the growth of pickleball as one of the fastest growing sports in America. More and more players are hearing chatter about the sport and want in on the action! With almost 3.5 million players across the nation, we’ll see continuous growth over the next year.

Some key quotes from the article below and visit The Economist’s website to read the full article.

“In the five years to the end of 2019, pickleball participation grew by more than 7%, while Americans’ overall activity level stayed flat, according to the Sport & Fitness Industry Association. Although data from 2020 have not yet been released, the sport has picked up more swing thanks to covid-19. Last March, when quarantines went into effect and gyms closed, portable pickleball nets temporarily sold out. Players set up courts, which are half the size of tennis courts, in driveways. “It’s the new thing,” says Derek Heil, an employee at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Dallas, who has seen a sales spike for pickleball equipment over the last year, including for higher-end paddles which sell for around $100.”

As more people take up the sport, demand for televised matches and sponsorships will increase. – Stu Upson, USA Pickleball CEO 

More Schools Playing Pickleball During Coronavirus Pandemic

More Schools Playing Pickleball During Coronavirus Pandemic

Vossberg Gainor worked with USA Pickleball to coordinate an interview with Scripps discussing the growth of pickleball in schools. Featuring Laura Vossberg Gainor and her kids, Clara and Garrett.

Article By: Kai Beech, National Correspondent for E.W. Scripps. 

Playing sports while obeying safety protocols, like social distancing, can be difficult. But with many people looking to exercise and stay safe during the pandemic, one sport is now serving up that option: pickleball.

“Compared to other sports where you have a lot of contact with each other, pickleball, you’re very rarely getting close to each other,” said Laura Gainor with USA Pickleball.

Gainor describes pickleball as a sport that’s a mix of badminton and ping-pong. While pickelball is played in an area half the size of a tennis court, the court big enough to properly social distance. “You see everyone keeps a safe distance on the court,” she said. “So, you’re for the most part keeping that six-feet of separation.”

According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, pickleball grew in popularity by 23% between 2016 and 2019.

“Just being inside all the time it can really have some adverse effects on your mental health,” said Emma Iacono, an 11th grader from North Carolina. Her high school has started playing pickleball during the COVID-19 crisis, giving her a physical and emotional escape during quarantine. “It’s a great way to stay connected people right now even though the world is sort of by itself,” Iacono said.

Now, more schools across the country are picking up paddles and playing pickleball during the pandemic. “Once we get those courts out, the kids go crazy,” said Denise Steenstra, a PE who plays pickleball with her students at Liberty Oaks Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri. “It’s one more piece to a puzzle to a kiddo who’s never tried something before,” Steenstra said. “They have no idea what they’re going to love until you give them a piece of equipment in their hands and they can have success with it.”

USA Pickleball Announces Stu Upson as CEO

USA Pickleball Announces Stu Upson as CEO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Laura Gainor – (704) 941-4191
mediarelations@USAPickleball.org
USA Pickleball Media Relations

 

USA Pickleball Announces Stu Upson as Chief Executive Officer 
Upson to become organization’s CEO as the sport experiences accelerated growth.

 

SURPRISE, Arizona, November 12, 2020—USA Pickleball, the national governing body of pickleball and one of the fastest growing sports in the country, today announced that Stu Upson has become Chief Executive Officer, officially starting December 14, 2020.

Upson has more than 25 years of senior management experience, including most recently as the Chief Operating Officer of the International Tennis Hall of Fame since January 2015. Prior to 2015, Upson held multiple senior level positions, including Executive Director of the United States Bowling Congress, Senior Vice President (SVP) of Sales and Marketing at Skip Barber Racing, SVP of Sports and Entertainment Marketing at First USA Bank, and beginning his sports and entertainment experience as Vice President of Business Development for Major League Baseball Properties.

“It is an honor to be joining USA Pickleball as the CEO,” said Stu Upson. “I am very excited to make this next step in my sports leadership career. As pickleball has soared in popularity due to its fun, social and active lifestyle qualities, we will continue to create programs for all players and all ages, from recreational to tournament, to continue this accelerated, upward trajectory. USA Pickleball is a strong brand with many players and organizations proud to be a part of it and we have an incredible future in front of us.”

 “On behalf of the Board of Directors we are thrilled to have Stu lead USA Pickleball,” said Phil Mortenson, Board Chair of USA Pickleball. “As Stu joins us, we are extremely energized as an organization for the opportunities on the horizon. With Stu’s leadership and the support of the Board and Staff, we anticipate continued advancement of the sport in growth of partnerships, grants, sanctioned tournaments, memberships, and much more.”

USA Pickleball Executive Director, Justin Maloof who will continue in his current role, is looking forward to Upson’s addition to the team. “Stu’s extensive background and management of multiple departments, including marketing and sales, finance, human resources, club operations, and events and hospitality are just what USA Pickleball needs to strategically plan with our fellow leaders, board members and ambassadors to strengthen the exposure of the sport,” said Maloof.  

As COO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Upson helped oversee its 7-acre campus which includes a 3,000-sq. ft. museum and tennis facility that, in addition to its year-round operations, hosts the Hall of Fame Open, an ATP World Tour tournament and the hall of fame induction ceremony. During his time as the Executive Director of the United States Bowling Congress, Upson was responsible for promoting and regulating the sport while supporting the organization’s members, volunteers and state and local associations. 

Upson, a graduate of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, is married with two daughters and lives in Darien, Connecticut.

 

About USA Pickleball 

The USA Pickleball Association, a non-profit 501(c)(3) was established in 2005 to further the advancement of the sport on a national level. As the official governing body of pickleball in the United States, USA Pickleball promotes the growth of pickleball by maintaining the rules, setting player ratings, advancing the sport through its national network of 1,900+ ambassadors, and sanctioning tournaments. Since 2013, USA Pickleball has grown 1,000% in its membership to nearly 40,000. More information can be found at usapickleball.org.

Pickleball Magazine Cover Feature with the NBA’s Scott Foster

Pickleball Magazine Cover Feature with the NBA’s Scott Foster

This past summer Vossberg Gainor got the opportunity to get an inside look at the start of a pickleball craze in Orlando’s NBA Bubble while Scott Foster, crew chief referee, championed the sport by creating a court at their resort. 

While all NBA referees, staff, media personalities and players were quarantined in the Bubble, Scott wanted to create an opportunity to fill some down time in between the games. As the weeks went on, he got more than half of the referees playing every morning and would share rally videos and pictures with us as everyone had a blast on their makeshift court.

It was incredible seeing their dedication and passion for the sport like so many of us experience as we pick up a paddle and play with friends. Thank you for giving us an inside look Scott, Tyler and Josh. We’re excited to watch where your pickleball careers take you outside of The Bubble. 

Check out the full feature in the October/November 2020 issue of Pickleball Magazine on page 38. 

NBA refs Scott Foster, Tyler Ford and Josh Tiven.