According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball grew by 159% over the last three years in the United States. Southeast Missouri State University is definitely following that trend.

America's Fastest-Growing Sport

Nearly 8.9 million people were playing pickleball in 2022, making it the country's fastest-growing sport by far. 

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three dads who had kids bored with summer break. It combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It's played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. 

"I think the interest in pickleball stems from an interest in tennis," said Tyler McLemore, assistant director of programs with Southeast Recreational Services. "The game of pickleball is similar, but it's not as fast-paced. That makes it appealing to a wider range of individuals."

You can play pickleball indoors or outdoors either on a badminton court or a modified tennis court. It can be played single-player or as a doubles team. One of the aspects the sport preaches is that it's a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. 

Pickleball Club at Southeast

All club sports are student-initiated and student-led, with help from Southeast Recreational Services. When students want to start a club sport, they come to Tyler McLemore, the assistant director of programs with Recreational Services. Then, they become an official student organization to work towards funding and move from there. 

Gus Winchester was the student who planned to kickstart pickleball interest at Southeast. He found McLemore in the fall of 2022 and said it was time for pickleball to become a club sport. 

"Pickleball is one of those sports that really unites people," said Winchester, president of Pickleball Club. "Anyone can play, no matter the skill level."

That same semester, the club hosted their very first tournament, the Redhawk Paddle Battle. That was less than a year ago. 

"Pickleball is just a fun game," said Eric Redinger, director of recreational services. "If you watch a match, a lot of times you will see the students just laughing and having a blast with it. To me, it looks like playing table tennis except you're standing on the table."

Opportunity for All

Anyone can participate in club sports at SEMO. Recreational Services can house eight pickleball courts. Students are welcome to the recreation facilities on campus at no cost. 

Members of Recreational Services have access to all offerings. Guest passes are only $7 per person per day. Alumni are also always welcome to reserve and rent space at the Student Recreation Center. 

Pickleball is one of those sports that really unites people. Anyone can play no matter their skill level.

Pickleball Club President, Gus Winchester