Select Page

by Kelly Campbell 

Happy Thanksgiving from TrackitHub! We hope you spend your holiday with friends and family, great food, and most importantly –– pickleball. 

We have a lot to be thankful for this year, especially surrounding the sport we love most. 

USA Pickleball estimates that this is the 57th year of pickleball, as it was created in 1965. Two years later, the first permanent court was created. Within ten years, the National Observer published an article about the new sport. Since then, pickleball growth has not slowed down –– it went from humble beginnings as a backyard experiment to the fastest-growing sport in the United States for the past 3+ years. 

This Thanksgiving, be grateful for these incredible pickleball contributors that have made pickleball what it is today and will ensure a bright future for the sport we all love. 

Joel Pritchard

Joel Pritchard, often considered the “Father of Pickleball,” is credited as a pickleball founder. Pritchard was the Lieutenant Governor of Washington. Along with Bill Bell, he pickleball in his backyard badminton court out of boredom. When the pair couldn’t find badminton equipment, they used ping pong paddles, and a plastic ball –– and pickleball was born. While some debate how pickleball got its name, one theory is that pickleball is named after the University of Washington rowing team’s “pickle boat.” As they continued playing, Pritchard and Bell decided to lower the badminton net and created rules specific to pickleball, using badminton as a guide. Pritchard was an enthusiastic pickleball player throughout his life.

Bill Bell 

Bill Bell was a businessman, political advisor, and one of the three founders of pickleball. After creating the game with Pritchard, he was at the forefront of pickleball development as an ambassador for their company, Pickleball-Inc. His contributions to pickleball rules made the game equally fun and competitive, and he brought pickleball internationally by promoting the sport and building courts throughout Australia and Southeast Asia. 

Barney McCallum

Although not technically a part of the first-ever pickleball game, Barney McCallum soon joined Pritchard and Bell in playing and developing their new sport. He helped create the official pickleball rules alongside Pritchard and Bell and became heavily involved in the family-oriented game. McCallum is credited with creating the no-volley zone and double bounce rule. McCallum played a crucial role in encouraging pickleball popularity; he applied his marketing and business expertise to the sport and created the first pickleball company, Pickleball-Inc, with Bell and Pritchard

Sid Williams

Washington native Sid Williams is a 2017 Pickleball Hall of Fame Inductee for his contributions to pickleball. In 1984, Williams founded the first USAPA and was director for over 90 tournaments. As President of USAPA, Williams created a ranking system and new rules and was a major contributor to pickleball popularity growth through 1995.

Mark Friedenberg

Friedenberg is known for numerous pickleball contributions, including organizing the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) in 2005. He has won numerous pickleball championships and served as the first USAPA president. Since its inception, USAPA has become one of the most well-known pickleball organizations in the country. In 1999, Friedenberg also wrote The Official Pickleball Handbook and was at one time the owner of Pro-Lite Sports.

Frances (Fran) Myer

Avid pickler Fran Myer is known for creating one of the first informational pickleball websites, complete with rules, tips, and tournaments. The website evolved into the first pickleball retail website ever. The 1999 site sold pickleball gear across the country and around the world from nearly all manufacturers available at the time. 

Robert (Bob) Lanius

In 2006, pickleball fanatic Bob Lanius created and developed This software was crucial to the growth of worldwide tournaments, including the Happy Trails Classic Tournament and Arizona Senior Olympics, through online registration, tournament management, and tracking results. This software revolutionized how people around the world could get involved in pickleball. 

Jennifer Lucore

Jennifer Lucore is known as pickleball’s first “sponsored” player when she was sponsored by Pickleball-Inc. She is a talented pickleball player, writer, influencer, and historian. She began playing in 2007 and is a multiple-time pickleball gold medalist. Lucore also served as the USAPA newsletter publisher and wrote the first pickleball history book, History of Pickleball: More Than 50 Years of Fun!

Steve Paranto

Paranto is a pickleball fanatic who has been instrumental in getting young people dinking. As an elementary school physical education teacher, Paranto incorporated pickleball into his classes for 30 years. In addition to elementary phys-ed, Pranto taught at the college level and is certified by International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA). He is also a 5.0 level national champion and invented the first composite pickleball paddles with his father, Arlen. Arlen and Steve Paranto have been inducted into the Pickleball Hall of Fame. 

Tom Dundon

Earlier this year, the Chairperson of the Alliance of American Football, owner of NHL Carolina Hurricanes, and businessman Tom Dundon purchased the Professional Pickleball Association

(PPA) and Pickleball Central, two of the most popular organizations in pickleball. His business and sports expertise have the potential to take these platforms to the next level, providing financial capital, bringing more attention to pickleball in the professional sports world, and encouraging increased growth for professional pickleball. Check out TrackitHub blog Tom Dundon’s Drop Shot into Pickleball for more information on Dundon’s background and investment in pickleball. 

Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant

These three world-renowned professional athletes are somewhat new to the pickleball scene, but we can expect their contributions will be revolutionary for the sport. Tom Brady, football icon, and basketball legends Kevin Durant and LeBron James have made pickleball history by becoming owners of Major League Pickleball (MLP) teams. Because of their reputations in the sports world and their financial investments in the sport, their involvement is a milestone in pickleball’s journey to becoming a mainstream professional sport. Read more about LeBron James’ pickleball purchase in TrackitHub’s blog  LeBron James’ Slam Dink into Pickleball –– Basketball Legend Buys MLP Team

Sources – 

USA Pickleball 

Pickleball Hall of Fame