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



Laura Gainor – (704) 941-4191
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

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. 

Vossberg Gainor Celebrates One Year Anniversary with a Focus on Pickleball

Vossberg Gainor Celebrates One Year Anniversary with a Focus on Pickleball

As Vossberg Gainor celebrates their one-year anniversary, it is with great excitement to officially announce a continued focus of marketing one of the fastest growing sports in America: Pickleball! 

Since launching in September 2019, Vossberg Gainor was introduced to USA Pickleball, the national governing body of pickleball. Not only did they become a client, but it created a new healthy and active lifestyle for founder, Laura Vossberg Gainor.

Pickleball instantly became an obsession just like for the other almost 3.5 million players across the United States. Playing multiple times a week at the local community center, researching content to share on USA Pickleball’s social media channels and would find herself accidentally watching numerous hours of training videos, and started introducing the game to her friends so there were more people to play with each week. Then having started a local club in Chicago, organizing weekly social pickleball nights at a local fitness club.

Since then, Vossberg Gainor has been a consultant for USA Pickleball and now serves as the Director of Media Relations, leading their earned media efforts working directly with the Managing Director of Marketing and Communications. Frequently contributing to the brand’s newsletter and Pickleball Magazine.

“Pickleball is a sport that can be played by people of all ages and skill level and easily be picked up,” said Laura Vossberg Gainor. “As one of the fastest growing sports in the country, there are so many opportunities for brands to connect with local clubs, pros and recreational players to jump in on the growing social aspects of the game.”

Vossberg Gainor developed a passion for the sport so much over the last year that a recent visit to family in Florida in June sparked the family to move to Ponte Vedra, Florida to join a community that hosts 12 pickleball courts, waterpark amenities for the kids and an opportunity to live an active lifestyle playing pickleball year-round.  

With more than 15 years experience in experiential and digital marketing for numerous brands, the agency will specialize in putting brands and organizations in front of almost 3.5 million pickleball players across the United States by developing online marketing and earned media strategies. As well as offering personal branding expertise to players to connect with brands.

For more information, contact Follow us on Social Media – @VossbergGainor & @LauraGainor.


Interview with NBA Referee Crew Chief, Scott Foster, Tyler Ford and Josh Tiven as pickleball became a way of life for them inside the NBA Bubble. Published in the October/November issue of Pickleball Magazine, which is available to USA Pickleball members

Featured on Fox Sports Florida, Vossberg Gainor discusses the benefits of being a member of USA Pickleball while visiting Pictona in Daytona, Florida. 

Like for many others, pickleball has provided a healing story, an outlet for exercising their mind or body bringing a healthier lifestyle or simply bringing pure joy getting the chance to play with friends. Similar stories featured in the August/September issue of Pickleball Magazine – The Healing Power of Pickleball. 

USA Pickleball Design Spotlight: Boelter + Lincoln & Kelly Tidball

USA Pickleball Design Spotlight: Boelter + Lincoln & Kelly Tidball

Agency Spotlight: Boelter + Lincoln

Over the past six months, it was an honor to get to work with the team at Boelter + Lincoln as they worked on a brand re-launch for USA Pickleball. From focus groups, to creative ideation and final execution, we enjoyed getting the opportunity to work with their passionate and creative team.
One of the fastest-growing sports in the country partnered with B+L on a website + logo redesign, public relations campaign, and countless creative assets to grow membership and get more people playing the highly-addictive mashup of ping pong, badminton, and tennis.
Take a look at a few of the highlights from the full-scale campaign ↓ and visit the Boelter + Lincoln WEBSITE for more information about their agency!

Graphic Designer Spotlight: Kelly Tidball

Following the launch of the USA Pickleball brand re-launch in July, we also got the opportunity to work with Kelly Tidball, a talented freelance graphic designer as she worked on creating shareable graphics for the brand’s social media channels.

We first met Kelly as she was finishing her degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee and most recently she was a Senior Marketing Graphic Designer for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

During these times of companies needing to remove positions, we see it as a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on these talented individuals, such as Kelly!

Meet Kelly Tidball!

Below is Kelly’s bio and some examples of the work she did for USA Pickleball.

Thank you for your creative talents, Kelly, and we know your next company will be so lucky to have you on their team! 

Current job title: Freelance Graphic Designer
Last Job: Senior Marketing Graphic Designer, Arizona Diamondbacks
Hometown: Brookfield, WI
Current City: Phoenix, AZ
Alma Mater: Marquette University

What I did at the D-backs:

  • I worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks for 5 years. My role at the D-backs was designing and creating all marketing materials and contributing to the marketing initiatives. I designed web ads, email graphics, social media graphics, logos, event signage, billboards, print advertisements and promotional items. I assisted our advertising coordinator by updating, and the MLB ballpark app. I was responsible for event signage and advertisements as well as day of coordination for large events.
  • 2019 I was promoted to Senior Marketing Graphic Designer and took over the responsibility of planning and implementing the marketing campaigns. marketing team that would include a layout of the organization’s goals and strategies. This allowed me to work on a project from idea to implementation.
  • I have a passion for graphic design and marketing and love the ability to come up with a concept and make it come alive.

Skills and areas of expertise:

  • Expert in Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.
  • Some experience with motion graphics.
  • Expert in Advertising and Marketing Campaigns