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Inside the MLP with DC Pickleball COO Adam Behnke

Are you curious about the future of Major League Pickleball? Join us as we go behind the scenes with Adam Behnke, who shares the inside scoop on building an MLP team.

Last updated on September 7th, 2023 at 03:41 am

Simply Pickleball Podcast Interview with DC Pickleball COO: Adam Behnke

Are you curious about the future of Major League Pickleball? Join us as we go behind the scenes with Adam Behnke, who shares the inside scoop on building an MLP team. 

Watch as Adam takes us through his journey of becoming COO of the DC Pickleball Team and building something extraordinary from the ground up. 

Learn how he brings his strategic vision and ambition to MLP Pickleball and what drives him to succeed in growing this exciting sport. 

Discover the promise of pickleball today with MLP Pickleball and DC Pickleball!


hi I’m Crystal Brown your host and today we got a chance to speak with Adam Behnke who’s the Chief Operating Officer of DC
pickleball team based out of Washington DC. He was also formerly with the major league soccer team based in DC as well
as the New York Yankees he explains all things about Major League Pickleball what’s the current state and what’s to
come and out of the show well Adam thank you so much for joining today I’m really excited to talk to you about Major
League Pickleball and we’ll get there for sure but I wanted to start first with just kind of understanding your
career path and maybe how you got started um playing pickleball but you can start
with either one yeah absolutely no thank you so much for having me can’t wait to start talking about pickleball but uh there were a few

Adam Behnke Introduction
things before that uh that I’d love to share um originally born and raised St Louis Missouri had an incredible opportunity
to come out to New York City um to run track and field um at Columbia University and get my
sociology and business degree from there kind of the World opened up in a really big way after getting introduced into
the sports agency world and I held a couple internships at local sports agencies and even NBC Sports and as the
world would have it um full circle now one of the guys that I worked for at the sports agency
actually is one of our principal owners with the DC pickleball team so there’s
there’s a lot in between there but connecting I guess A to Z as it currently is that’s that’s how we’ve
gotten from Step A to Z well so were you always interested in sports and or sort of the business of sports
I was um for me you know it was a big part of my life growing up I had always played all the sports and I just found
it as something that was a place where you could see emotion and positivity and
impact and it changed people’s lives in ways um that other Industries really didn’t have on that type of impact you know
whether that’s we all remember our first baseball game with a significant other parents Mom Dad brother sister
grandparent you don’t really say that about many other Industries and so for me I looked at it as while I would have
loved to be a pro basketball player or baseball player definitely would have never happened but we all dreamed that
at some point um what else could I do in the space and really use my story and coming out of St
Louis into New York and then now where I am today how could I use that to help Inspire other people that might also be
interested in getting into the sports industry and following my story and being a part of that inspiration path
for somebody else I found it as a very special space that I wanted to get involved with and so starting my career
with the New York Yankees um smiling and smiling and dialing selling tickets and learning all the tricks of the trade and
with our season ticket holders some incredible people incredible companies and was there for about five years until making a move down to the DC area to
launch a USL soccer team called Loudoun United from scratch 5 000 person Stadium from ground up in a matter of 16 months
and got to work with the principal owners actually of the pickleball team during that time and in that project it
was really fun to see that all come about lots of lots of stress and little sleep plenty of coffee but life-changing
for for all of us to be able to get that off the ground and running and it still sits there today and impacts the community in a positive way but going
back to what I mentioned and what was my inspiration from them yeah so when is the first time you heard of pickleball
when did you when you know when’s the first time you’ve heard that mentioned this is one of my favorite things to ask
people in general because for me it was my grandfather you know almost 10 years ago saying Adam I’m playing pickleball
with my buddies at the local Rec Center or church or whatever it may be and I said that’s great gravel sounds cute there’s no way I want anything to do
with pickleball today you know it’s like it’s for you guys um you know fast forward you know I hear
about it another time from our principal owners and it was a business opportunity
um and then I I even kind of laughed at them as well when I first brought it up of like oh pickleball is this is really
a thing you know it sounds like it’s growing and going in the right direction but let me do some more research and think about it
um sure enough I am so happy and grateful for the opportunity to be in the sport and being at the front seat early with the front row View and do you
play do you are you a player yourself I do yes just like everybody else I’ve caught the bug when we launched the team
in January I started playing myself and now find myself out there on the courts whether it’s drawing chalk lines and
portable Nets outside here um of where I live or going to some courts nearby to play with friends um
it’s a you know a few times a week type of venture let me understand if you can explain a little bit about Major League pickleball versus maybe tournament

Major League Pickleball
pickleball or our recreational pickleball what differentiates Major League pickleball maybe you can just
kind of describe what it is and then we can get into how it came to be yeah definitely um the biggest differentiator
is that it is a team focused format so there are 24 Major League pickleball
teams that represent 24 different cities around the country each of those teams is made up of four rostered athletes Two
Men and two women which is a whole other aspect that I think is incredible the equity of the sport itself you don’t see
that in any other sport men and women playing against each other and on the same side and all the results uh equally
matter the same so really cool aspect of it and we travel around to different
facilities at least for this this year in 2023 six uh official tournaments and
we play against those teams um for the the season long standings in hopes of
being in the top 12 of 24 which we call the premier level going into the the
next year which then sets up this whole promotion relegation system that is known to many soccer and football fans
but never has been done in the states so as it is this year while fighting for the top 12 spots going into 2024.
there’s no other sport in the US that has that sort of format where you try to get into the premiere interesting that’s
so interesting and so um was there so the 24 when Major League pickleball began there were there were already 24
teams sort of selected or no no and thanks for bringing us back to the beginning of it there sort of it’s
doubled essentially so it started with six then went to 12 and now to 24 over the course of the last couple of years
there was one event in 2021 um really dipping the toes in and then there was another few events three
events in 2022 and then we doubled to six events in 2024 and doubled the teams
um and so you had um 2014 you have 24 teams now but 12 new expansion franchises new ownership groups coming
into the fold um going into this 2023 season and those are the likes of some pretty well known
athletes and celebrities you got Tom Brady with the Las Vegas night owls you got LeBron James with the New York
Hustlers Kevin Durant with the Brooklyn Aces he got our group with Eva Longoria
and Justin Verlander Kate Upton Odell Beckham Jr Cliff Averill Sean Marion Rip Hamilton Mesut Ozil the list goes on and
on such a really exciting space to be in as you have some really well-known
people but also smarts intelligent well experienced folks really writing the
script of Major League pickleball and pushing this forward which is what excites me the most is just working with
this level of individuals to help create Major League pickleball from ground up so who had the vision for Major League

Steve Khun

pickleball where where did this idea come from again like moving away from tournaments and into like we have we
should have a different format and and sort of encouraging all these celebrities and interested parties to
get involved absolutely so Steve Kuhn is the Visionary founder and CEO of the of
Major League pickleball he um came up with this idea basically out of Texas in
his in his backyard they’ve installed a pickleball court and I believe his
nephew introduced him to the game um and just like the rest of us fell in love with it and you know he started
thinking you know how can we go beyond just you know the backyard and playing on this on a regular basis it’s brought
me so much joy it’s brought so many others that I know a lot of joy and positivity to the world I think this has
it it’s like has the ingredients to create this incredible recipe at a pro level a Rec level and everywhere in
between so fortunately Steve and others came together launched this league officially late 2021 and we’ve been
rocking and rolling ever since so we’re only 20 something months into what is Major League pickleball with so much
more to look forward to and how many teams is there a limit you know is there an upper limit that’s already sort of mapped out for the number of teams yeah
for now I mean you kind of look at the rest of the sports uh world that we live within and you look at the leagues that
are somewhere between 20 and 30 teams for the most part you see MLS expansion you see USL soccer expansion and others
I think we’re going to stay steady at 24 for the for for the foreseeable future as we really want to build out a strong
foundation not go too fast too soon but make sure we’re creating high quality content high quality format rules
entertaining pickleball for the masses and of course making sure that the top
players are excited to be a part of Major League pickleball every step of the way I know there’s like a draft interesting because some sports have

MLP Draft
that and some don’t and so that was an interesting decision to have a draft and how does that work and I have friends
that are so involved in the in certain drafts that they have a whole event every year and 10 people come together
and they bid and they party and they do a lot but I’m just wondering how this draft works and maybe that’s the future
there’s going to be a lot of events around the draft yeah absolutely most recently we hosted the the season two
draft here in New York City and in Central Park at wolman rink iconic education so incredible to see that
being and that that being a forum or an option for us even in month 25 or whatever it is of Major League
pickleball to be able to do that I think elevates the brand elevates the whole structure of what we’re doing the
ecosystem at large and so the draft is a is an exciting nerve-wracking day for
all of us as owners and operators it’s our chance to get the players that we’re hoping to have as a part of our team
there’s a ton of research that goes into it you get the list of all the professional pickup players that have
put in their application for the draft not only do they all have a rating system through duper duper is a dynamic
Universal pickleball rating and those ratings can range anywhere from as low as like the beginner at two all the way
up to seven plus where the top players are currently not only are you looking at those ratings but you’re looking at
their past performances over the last 30 60 90 days who’s trending upward who’s
trending downward who’s kind of plateaued you look that the players that play well together versus not so there’s
a lot of relationships and intricacies of how different players play with each other who’s playing right side who’s
playing left side so you can imagine all the details and conversations that go on during this but then you go in you know
typical drafts snake orders so if you drafted number one that’s going to be your first overall pick of the draft
your next pick is not going to be until 24 and so on and so forth so there’s
different philosophies and theories around would you rather be number one in 24 or would you rather be that 12th and
13th pick back to back as you sneak back around through that draft itself so yeah are you specifically involved pretty
pretty heavily involved in your role there in the draft I get to be a part of it in the conversations but by no means
do I get to have the final say in it because fortunately there are smarter uh more talented uh scouting uh minded
people that understand um the all the intricacies that I described so we’re fortunate enough to have a GM named Josh gartman and a head
coach named Kyle McKenzie that really help advise on our strategy and put together that roster just like you would

MLP Training
in any other sport so are the teams training together do they you know how often do they come and you know is there
a season seasonality to when they have to be maybe on site things like that absolutely and that’s an interesting
element of it too um especially because where we are and being so young in this and um we have players all the players
of Major League Pickleball are spread around the country but you’re starting to see kind of a migration to specific
areas in the country because that’s where a lot of the pros are living and playing and so of course to get the
proper training and to be able to elevate your game you want to be close to players that are the same Talent
level as you are better so you see a lot of players living in Florida you see a lot of players living in Texas and California because those are some of the
hotbeds for pro pickleball players and so our four players Riley Newman number
two in the world is based out of Dallas we have amazing twin sisters out of Indianapolis actually and then Young up
and coming star who has just really ascended the rank so rapidly just in a year’s time Christian Alshon out of
Florida so we uh we get the players all together as much as we can to train because team Synergy and culture is
really critical to us at DC pickleball team and having them together just recently Monday and Tuesday which was
National pickleball day yeah but no better way to celebrate than getting the whole team together and being able to
play and then also go out and meet some of the community members and play alongside of them so long story short uh
training’s critical but it’s not uh that frequent that we get them all together I’d call it a few times a year bleeding
into each of these Major League Pickleball events so how many events are there for Major League Pickleball like how does how do

MLP Structure
the events work yeah so this year specifically there are six um and as we look to the 2024 calendar there’s
conversations of going to a larger scale maybe it’s eight maybe it’s ten can we handle more than that
um of course we want to be cognizant of the players travel and their schedules because they also play other tournaments
um throughout the year that are not team oriented like major league pickleball they’re mostly playing like they’re individuals or their doubles
um and represent you know themselves not the team and so we want to be cognizant of the player health and their longevity
but also you know create some really great consistency with the schedule to be able to storytell and get all of our
fans excited about what it means to be playing you know two three times a month for the league standings just like you
would see in any other team or sport format yeah so I wonder if it’ll be like the US Open every year people come to
New York to to watch Tennis and maybe they’ll be there you know the big events so can you explain how it works um at
these events did they lead up to a larger event is it you know are they unique events and the winners the winner
like how does that how does it work yeah the events are incredible I had no idea
and none of us really did as we’re getting into this in January launching the team launching the brand everything goes live and then our first ever event
was in Mesa Arizona um January 26th never forget it you walk in you got a beautiful facility out in
Mesa Arizona one Center Court with I’d say 2 000 seats for people to come in
and watch and then you have the surrounding courts just like you with the US Open you got your side cords grandstand court and Center Courts and
as the weekend goes on from Thursday which is like pool play day to Friday pool play but then you get into the
brackets based on who advanced and who already got knocked out and then Saturday Sunday you get to kind of like your Championship days so it’s this
awesome like Crescendo from Thursday to Sunday and the Crowders get bigger and bigger and bigger and then you get to
Championship Saturday Sunday and it’s just an electric atmosphere like shoulder to shoulder cowbells going off
people like Signs cheering the music the DJ like this the production of this is
so so good me and the rest of our ownership group are just like all right this this is it we’ve made a good decision can’t wait to help push this
thing forward in every event we’ve gone to since that first one in January has just gotten bigger and better
um we’re constantly iterating and making it as entertaining and as sticky content as possible both for the infant in-game
and in match experience but also for the television too since we’re working with you know Tennis Channel and our YouTube
channels as well as conversations with other potential media outlets for for deals that’s amazing yeah am I wrong to
say that MLP was on CBS recently or yeah so we’ve been on tennis channel uh my
favorite one was ESPN on June 19th that was our Super Final and it had hundreds
of thousands of viewers watching at its peak which was so exciting to see um the ratings you know you even look at
like the headline article all headlines of Articles saying MLP out does NHL and
MLS and MLB you know ratings for for the day it just shows you how many people
want to watch and consume the the sport itself so really cool opportunity for us and um what is even better is it’s just
the beginning yeah so are each of the city’s building pretty amazing facilities to to support these teams or
you know how or training facilities is that or maybe even viewing facilities
where people they can host tournaments yeah um and that’s a big conversation as it is today is you know where do we go
from because right now yes it’s kind of like US Open style you travel to these different cities all teams kind of come
into that weekend together from all over and then you have that four day event and then you you know you have another
six to eight weeks even more sometimes between events so how do we create that consistency and ongoing narrative from
one to the next because it’s you know difficult to keep momentum for for six to eight weeks and so that’s our
conversation into 2024 is when even 25 is when do we get to the point where we
want to have home courts and actual uh geographies make a difference because right now while we represent our cities
and want to be local as we can going in and doing community events we yet to have assigned any sort of actual MLP
events to some of those home cities it happens to happenstance would of course have it that we play in Atlanta there is
a team in Atlanta we have some uh tournaments out in California there’s plenty of teams in California but
there’s yet to be kind of that home in a way format but that conversation is live and happening and Facility Owners
operators we’re talking to as many of them as we can to understand what the landscape looks like and ultimately yeah
I would say if I had to be if I was a betting man I would say there’s going to be uh indoor home pickleball Arenas here

Pickleball Stadiums
in the next few years and I cannot wait for that day I can only imagine what it would be like indoor like NBA NHL style
probably a smaller scale call it four or five thousand people um that that’s going to be a special day
and you have experience in that so you kind of know what it would take to get to to build the stadium absolutely
absolutely yeah those those days of building a 5 000 person venue in soccer um in in Leesburg Virginia with Loudoun
United and DC United um really does help us understand the process and what needs to happen from A
to Z to be able to procure the land make the right relationships with the right people in order to make that successful
and you know pickleball facilities in general are just so unique everybody is sprinting right now kind of land grab
style to try to build indoor facilities as quickly as possible whether that’s going into you know white box Bed Bath
and Beyond and then turn it into 15 chords you’re hearing about the pickle malls other facilities that are people
going into and leasing for 10 years and flipping it quickly into six to eight courts and so on and so forth but yet
has there been something where it’s let’s build 10 courts that support on a normal 24 7 365 basis and then retrofit
or have a model where there is a legitimate Center Court that can host two three thousand people at a time but
um so I can’t wait for that courts indoor or outdoor anywhere
there’s there’s a need for more it’s like it it doesn’t it’s an insatiable crowd of more pickleballers and um
certainly and maybe there’ll be some cities um I won’t main name names that have
lost a few teams in the past few years um that could rebuild in some way
um so is there is there money in MLP like is there you know at any level right like can the players make a living

MLP Money
playing for MLP um if you’re an investor maybe you can start with the players but I’d love to learn about sort of the investment of
the MLP as well and that’s something that we kind of we provide ourselves on is that we do have large prize pools um
for the year it’s a it’s a five million dollar pot uh spread across those six events so
um right now where it is and I know this is going to grow and continue but as it is today I would say estimated probably
40 or so uh pickleball play pro pickleball players are full-time Pros you have their uh you know annual
incomes ranging from you know maybe close to a hundred thousand dollars up to a couple hundred thousand dollars
depending on who they are and how high of a level they’re playing at which is exciting to see um they not only have their appearance
fees and prize monies but they also have their sponsorships with their uh pickleball paddle providers or anybody
that’s in the space so you see uh the revenue streams going in the right spaces and the criteria that you’ve seen
be successful for other sports to have longevity and grow as the way that they should you’re seeing a lot of those
ingredients in the in this space as well so um for example the big super final that
was on ESPN drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers um each of those four players that won
the super final each of them walked away um with a sixty thousand dollar payday after winning that super final so not
not uh too bad for for a weekend work and it’s only going to grow and get better from here as the business
continues to elevate that’s amazing I totally I think that’s absolutely fantastic for them I actually taught
talk to Lindsey Newman Riley Newman’s sister who is also a professional player and she said she’s just feels so blessed
to be able to do this you know for a living so it’s amazing so what about investment right so
um so you said there’s we’re capped at um you said 2014’s right
um you know is it going to be harder and harder to become an investor are these teams still looking for investors and
you know what about those early investors that got in or you know are they going to be selling their shares it’s going to work like you know what
happens with basketball for example I could see any and all of the above happening for sure because there were
some very early investors that had bought in at a small fee relative to where we are today
um hundred thousand dollars for example um and most you know going into this year’s franchises were going for a
couple million dollars and then as you go into 2023 just months and months later you have most recently Dude
Perfect buying in to a teen Major League pickleball I think that valuation was somewhere around six million dollars and
then most recently Mark lazari owner of the Milwaukee team and former Milwaukee Bucks owner stating a 10 million
evaluation so those multiples are absolutely ridiculous in a very short
period of time so I think there’s certainly an appetite for buyers and sellers and that certainly creates uh
you know good news for all the investors that are trying to get in and get out at the same time so yeah I mean how who’s
setting the valuation is it I mean because I have more experience in the startup world where it’s a little bit of the world wild west and you never know
um and some of the sort of unicorn status but in the Sports World um you know the the this isn’t new
business right there’s other teams with valuations and how do they set the criteria for pickleball and and just
think about like what is this team worth absolutely a lot of it is based on the vision for going into next year in the
in the rapid growth it’s like looking at the addressable audience of 40 plus million people are playing this sport
usually the high participation sport converts very well to a large audience
um from a you know uh a perception or a spectator sport which I’m trying to say
and that’s why we’re very bullish on the media deals with the whether it’s Tennis Channel or ESPN or CBS or all the others
that could potentially be uh partners and that helps us support our valuations as well as the calendar we look at this
year and people buying in and that three six seven eight nine ten range and you’re talking about six to eight events
and then the ancillary exhibitions or community events going on and you start thinking about a 20 calendar a 20 event
calendar year in 2024 you then start talking about the facilities like you mentioned all of it really comes
together where you have the key verticals that all other sports teams have and can make sense of these
valuations of course it’s gone way faster higher than we ever expected but
as this continues to elevate and these criteria that I mentioned starts to continue to take form you can make make
sense of it in a big way I mean you just look at comps like MLS for example is only 27 years in its existence a few
years ago you’re buying in at 200 less than 200 million dollars now valuations are 700 800 and even as high as 1
billion so it’s fascinating to see where the sports world is going maybe some of those are disconnected from reality as
you know a lot of sports teams do burn a lot of cash and lose money on a regular basis but as that buyer seller interest
continues to you know breed you certainly can find the right people I don’t know if you mentioned this earlier
but so are you guys paying salaries to the I mean do they do they get some kind of stipend or salary to the players you
know and because I was thinking about it with respect to the valuation some of the reason that some of these teams have
have had to raise so much money or maybe you think they overspend is that they’re paying a lot to certain players and
um you know I’m just curious if if there’s just the prize money or if they’re also getting some kind of stipend for being part of the team as it
is now all the salaries come through all the all the money that goes to the players uh mostly comes through the MLP
so it’s centralized at the league level and those appearance fees are based on kind of ranking and so you know top
player in the world is going to get more money for his or her appearance fee than uh than the last ranked player
um and everywhere in between and then you have the teams responsible for the
travel expenses and any of the things that come in involved with the player outline any sort of cash with their with
their attendance to the majorly pickleball events we love taking care of our players and making sure that they feel like they’re just Top Notch and so
we always are taking care of them from an expenses perspective and even you know help them out with appearances and things like that when they show up in
the local community it’s critical to us to grow the right brand and Top Class type of organization so we definitely
want to treat our players right and make sure that we’re you know set in the bar hopefully for the rest of the owners to
do the same thing so I I joke with our players all the time you know that I can’t believe this job exists that I’m
running a little team I can’t believe they that exists where they’re getting paid to be Pro pickleball players it’s almost like a pinch me moment that three
four years ago this wasn’t even a thing people were winning like a hundred dollars at a tournament and we’re happy not 60k I think we talked about this
article um last time we spoke that you know Ken pickleball save America and I keep thinking yes it can either that or
Taylor Swift or Barbie one of them some one of those three things is gonna say of America I’m not sure so you mentioned

Community Involvement
Community involvement uh what what kinds of things are these teams doing and I mean obviously you have more experience
with the DC pickleball team but what are you seeing in terms of community involvement and which I think is wonderful by the way is one of my
favorite things as well um it’s there’s just nothing better than using your platform for positivity and bringing
more smiles to people’s faces than would otherwise be there so you know we take a lot of pride in building out our
community programming whether that’s as recently as going to the University of Maryland and donating a bunch of
co-branded awesome pickleball paddles through our partner Yola who is in
Rockville Maryland and makes some of the best pickleball paddles and equipment in the country and we really take pride in
like helping players Elevate their games so being able to do that and then play a play alongside of our Pros was super
impactful and that’s another topic you know maybe we’ll get into is the college game and what that means for us into the
future and whatnot but the community aspect of this is key and it’s so unique and special Nashville because unlike any
other sport pickleball can be played by five years old five-year-olds up to 100 year olds and everywhere in between and
we’ve seen that firsthand we played with five-year-old kids and we played with as a 90 year old lady who said to me Adam I
love this Sport and without this I don’t know if I would even be here today it’s allowed me to be active social I have
friends that I never have had before and I am feeling better than ever and if she would have said Adam guess my age which
and most people are not going to say I would have said she was in her 70s and looking fantastic
um so so it’s like so inspiring to go into the community and see these things and how impactful pickleball has been
for so many because that’s well that’s just one story I’ve kind of heard that at scale in other variations so we take
a lot of pride in doing that unfortunately Major League pickleball sees that as well and so they’ve created this foundational arm called pickleball
cares and that’s going to be kind of our vehicle to do these events and build money around bringing pickleball to more
undershirt of communities whether that’s at the local school level or just in general at the rec courts YMCAs Etc and
so kind of All in This Together mentality where we want to bring in the pros make an impact use our pickleball manufacturers such as Yola and others to
really make a difference I think that’s incredible and yeah I mean I couldn’t agree more with what you said sort of ditto on all levels with respect to the
community and I do think and I do want to talk about Collegiate pickleball since that’s a subject I have been
covering well this this seems like a great equalizer right because the equipment’s not that expensive the
courts don’t have to be that expensive hopefully we will invest some more it was a lot of sports I was a swimmer
growing up you know having accessible pools being you know swim safety lifeguards all those things you know it
just there’s a harder barrier to entry um than than pickleball pickleball it’s
just it’s just so accessible and so I think it’s really important that you mentioned that really anyone can play
but also that that’s a goal is to make sure anyone can play that wants to and encourage using it respect to Collegiate
pickleball because I I have some questions about so how old these players are that you’re recruiting
um you know because when it comes to sponsorship and how that how College when you involve College you have issues
with sponsorship so how is the MLP looking at sort of Collegiate pickleball or maybe the future of college

Collegiate Pickleball
pickleball absolutely we’re looking to support it as much as we can because you know we look at this as how do we build
the strongest Pathway to Pro possible right now of course we kind of have the top layer and the pyramid so that’s the
professional level but how do we build out the supporting layers of that for the longevity and the sake of the
success for the the sport in general in college pickleball is a key piece of that right now there are over a hundred
schools actually in our country that have some sort of pickleball club or a group that plays on campus and so being
able to understand who those people are what their clubs are doing is critical and so we’ve already started building
relationships and tournaments around found this group of 100 and have events
already mapped out across this calendar year and already looking into 2024 to
build more so essentially we go in from a duper perspective Major League pickleball and help them kind of give
them like a stipend to help them get to the tournament and be able to afford going offset some of those costs and
then just like any other tournament that you would be in you have you know University of Maryland versus University
of North Carolina playing against each other and there’s like the regional tournaments the national tournaments you
have your doubles Partners you have your team as well as the individuals and so
we try to highlight all of those angles with the college space and again it is
still like at its blank canvas surface level and growing rapidly so I’m really fortunate to actually get to sit on a
college pickleball task force and be at the front and center view of what this looks like learning it learning it as as
we go here over the last a week and there is just so much potential do you go to college tailgates and Center it
around kind of like a college game day to draw in people at an Ohio State Michigan game and how do you really draw
more people in and how do you find your Advocates and true ambassadors on those campuses to grow the word and bring
those students into and into the fold for for pickleball but I I do believe we’re going to see scholarships sooner
or sooner than later and just like you and I caught being College athletes I think we’re going to see the exact same
for pickleball does the format work the same like how many games are they playing in the tournaments in in college
versus maybe MLP um you mentioned and we maybe we could just talk about you have two women and
two men how many games are they playing at any given time during their their yeah so that’s what I love about the the

MLP Format
format of MLP is that you have one match is made up of four games and so those
four games are uh men’s doubles women’s doubles and then two mixed doubles and
you play to 21 via rally scoring which is a whole another element that we’ve
added in that’s created quicker games more entertaining games and easier to understand from an education perspective
just straight to 21 there’s no one zero two two one two or whatever in confusion
and so we’ve kept it super simple with the rally scoring and those four those
four games to 21 create your final score so if a team were to win men’s women’s
and mixed and lose the last mix they win the match 3-1 about in any of those other permutations this is another
unique element if you are tied to two at the end of those four matches you then get to go into a dream breaker which is
one on one play 221 and you rotate out your players every four points
extremely exciting and nerve-wracking and really entertaining across the board it’s like a a relay and swimming or and
running it’s like you know you really got to rely on your team which is you know the Focus right like I you know
there’s a lot of sports that are individual sports but when you’re when you’re when you want to play your best and you want to do your best but you
also have to rely on your team um so back to college are they are they also playing in that same format or is
it more typical tournament style you’re seeing yeah we’re trying to Institute that as much as we can as kind of like
the universal way of playing even though we you know with normal pickle like conventional pickleball model is your
score to 11 and you’re sliding out and you know scoring on your serve um we really are doing our best to
Institute that as as the as the way in the universal language of course no one likes change so
um you know trying to convince people the local records that that is the way and that is the movement we do it one one handshake one one brick at a time to
try to right right that way but I’m starting at the college level is going to be impactful because you know as those Generations go through the
pickleball ecosystem it’s just going to become become more and more common is there an age that you have to be in
order to be a player on the MLP because I know there’s some pretty young players yeah and it’s I think it’s only going to
skew younger it’s fascinating to see um the young talent that is in Major League pickleball as long as there’s
parental consent um they they can play and so top female in the world Annalee Waters 16 years old
and she has just been dominating the pickleball World for for many years and
she’s only 16 years old um there’s a handful of others that are in that 15 to 18 range that are playing
at the top level or in the Premier Division of Major League pickleball and are just doing really well and you are
also looking at kind of you know from a GM perspective we’re already looking at Young local talent in our area in hopes
that one day there is an academy or a farm system so I can’t wait to see who the next stars are going to be at age 12
13 14 15 and so on and so forth and then for so you can play at any it at that
point once you’re you have parental consent then any age goes it’s just who’s the best player and
um so I wonder who in in college pickleball and I think this is something that that I’m sure you isn’t is yet to
be defined but when there’s sponsorship conflict because if they go to college and who oversees it in college is at the
NCAA or do they have their own are you guys getting involved or not you necessarily but are you seeing the MLP
or duper getting involved with trying to make sure that you sort of protect the best interest of the players
um when they go to college yeah definitely and there’s also kind of the nil conversations that we have to have
too and understand what’s the most beneficial for those players so absolutely trying to figure out like what the best format would be the
tournaments themselves we have sponsors for those so that really nobody’s coming out of pocket to play at the the college
level but yeah there’s certainly going to be situations where um this student athlete may have to
choose whether they want to go to college and play through that path pathway or immediately go pro just like
you would see sometimes in basketball they forego their college eligibility and go straight out of high school or something like that but and again like
that’s where we are today but that could very well evolve over the course of the next few years and and those rules and
regulations May certainly change so what are the businesses that you’re seeing getting involved maybe from a

Business Sponsorship in MLP
sponsorship level um you know outside of maybe just a traditional pickleball there’s I mean
there’s it’s like again the Wild Wild West there’s a million different types of paddle companies but what are the companies that are the businesses that
are really supporting pickleball that you that you’ve seen yeah one of our primary sponsors was Major League
pickleball which is one of my favorites is Margaritaville um so Margaritaville of course has Resorts all around the world and they
have pickleball courts at many of them and so for them it’s like the natural audience because it’s essentially an
adult version of going to Disney for for kids you have just uh entertainment for for adults and pickleballs included in
that so the fact that we we go around the country and play at many locations is great for their Their audience and it
is kind of a natural fit you have your standard categories as well like on the hospital side HSS is one of our partners
they do a lot of sports sponsorships and are kind of lead doctors with the Yankees and the Knicks and others I’m so
excited to see kind of at that level already there are well-known brands that not only spend in the top four sports
but also are dipping their toes um it’s amazing it’s really pickable too that’s correct I mean that’s fantastic
so so is there in your role it sounds like you get to do a lot of different things and
what would you say like what’s coming what’s the net what’s your next year going to be like what are you what’s

What’s next for MLP?
your main focus personally and and even from the team yeah absolutely um I do
get to wear a lot of hats which is uh always thrilling to me fortunately I’ve had the opportunities to do it before
with the soccer teams uh but you know I’m looking forward to most um as is kind of a few full few pronged
first uncovering like what is the future of facility abilities when do we get to
that conversation of actually building an indoor pickleball facility and then what does that mean kind of trickle down
for the rest of our community building and all of the tentacles that potentially latch on to that and that is
the academy level the college level um and all the other potential younger and uh younger players that could be a
part of that facility you know you look at it and that facility should be a place where it’s home for a lot of
people it’s home for any of the local pickleball players no matter the age but then it’s also a place to engage and be
all Under One Roof with the pro players and the up and coming players like how cool is that that you have a built-in
fan base you have a built-in place to basically all be under the same roof under the same home as the pros and be a
part of those stories to say like oh yeah I played with that 12 year old kid and now he just signed a pro contract at
DC pickleball team he used to be over here on this court six and now he’s Center Court and I’m cheering him on like it just like kind of all comes
together with that facility piece and for me that’s why I’m so excited about it because that represents a lot of
other things and that means we’ve made it to a very important threshold of the growth of pickleball do you think it’ll
be an Olympic sport yes yes yes I uh I do um I don’t know if it’ll be as
soon as 2028 or so but um I’ve already and talking to a lot of the pro athletes you know one of our
players um in the first part of this year was Stefano Vern and he’s from France he he said to me I would love
nothing more than to be a on the Olympic team representing my country uh in another great athlete Utica Castillo
from Spain same thing so the the athletes are already talking about it and I really hope we can do whatever we
we can to help support that and make it happen well that’s you know a good question I mean do you see that this expanding beyond the U.S
um in terms of what the MLP wants you know Major League pickleball doesn’t say U.S
major league pickleball it just says majorly pickleball like are they you think that it’ll go beyond our borders
I do um and while it is you know absolutely skyrocketing here in the United States
um we’ve already talked to a variety of people in Canada um in Europe and other locations I was
talking to somebody earlier today in the UK talking about playing pickleball um and he was saying it’s it’s just kind
of getting here we’re excited about it I played it myself for the first time a month ago and they’re kind of catching
the bug and catching up to speed and so we do have some folks within the major league pickleball staff level helping
kind of Shepherd what international pickleball might look like um and where the key places are to start
and again at the ground level um literally blue at the blueprint level building it as we go to figure out what
exactly that that strategy is but there are people in those specific countries thinking the same way and wanting to
partner so um it is a it is a two-way street it’s exciting well I really appreciate your

time and all the this explanation you know it’s just fantastic to see its grow then it just obviously I keep thinking
of more idea ideas and more growth potential for the business but I really appreciate your time Adam and I am so
excited about this next year and I think let’s you know hopefully we can both keep playing because we’re you know keep
thinking but also just really stay in touch about what’s happening next and and good luck this season and and
excited thank you so much for your time absolutely thank you so much excited for it as well hey guys thanks for listening
to Simply pickleball we’ll be back very soon with great interviews discussions and more all about pickleball don’t
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