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Melissa McCurley & Her Mission to Serve Others Through Pickleball

Strategy & Technique Stacie Townsend 11-15-2021

Melissa McCurley has impacted hundreds of thousands of lives through the sport of pickleball (which is just about more than anyone, other than maybe the three founders of the sport itself). What McCurley describes as a “mission to serve a greater purpose” not only drove her to jump head first into a new career, but is still what drives her and motivates her to this day.

McCurley had a long career in “Corporate America,” which led her to the State of Arizona, a hot spot for the sport of pickleball, in the early 2010s. Upon her arrival, she found the sport of pickleball being played. Funny enough, she knew what pickleball was at the time, but she thought it was just a game that she and her family played in their own driveway.

Through this time period, McCurley continued her work in “Corporate America,” but she felt that she was losing her soul and her purpose. So, she went looking for a new one. However, every door of opportunity that she sought out quickly closed on her. Nevertheless, McCurley would not be discouraged. She continued to seek opportunities, while dabbling with the sport of pickleball. She even played several pickleball tournaments.

Melissa McCurley & Her Mission to Serve Others Through Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

Then, in 2014, the founders of the well-known pickleball tournament brand, PickleballTournaments.com, Bob and Jettye Lanius, approached McCurley and offered her the opportunity to acquire their company. McCurley jumped at the opportunity, but this also meant that she would need to leave her stable, corporate job, where she would (to this day) have made significantly more money. But, it wasn’t about the money for McCurley (and it still isn’t).

Today, it is easy to see that PickleballTournaments.com revolutionized the sport of pickleball with the creation of software to manage pickleball tournaments, leading to rapid growth in the pickleball tournament space (in fact, there could be up to 1,000 pickleball tournaments next year in the 2022 calendar year, and with 1,000 pickleball tournaments, it is also easy to see why McCurley has been dubbed “the hardest working person in pickleball”). However, at the time the Lanius’ approached McCurley, PickleballTournaments.com looked very different than it does today. In fact, the company worked with less than 100 pickleball tournaments and was largely a regionally known service.

Melissa McCurley & Her Mission to Serve Others Through Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

McCurley couldn’t tell you exactly why she wanted to take the risk with the sport of pickleball (in fact, her family and loved ones thought she was crazy to leave her big job in “Corporate America), but McCurley does note that a “higher power” was asking her to do something that she didn’t fully understand. She felt as if this, PickleballTournaments.com, was her greater purpose that would allow her to serve others. In fact, PickleballTournaments.com, which on the surface is a software company, is actually a service company. PickleballTournaments.com is a service business to help clubs, communities, business, organizations, and associations manage and operate pickleball tournaments. And, it was this service business that McCurley believed was her vehicle to serve significantly more people than just her 10 direct reports in “Corporate America.” 

After a few years of owning and operating the company, McCurley knew she needed help and partners to scale the company, which was growing rapidly. So, in 2018, McCurley came to terms with the owners of Pickleball Central to combine forces. McCurley notes that she was driven to do the deal with Pickleball Central because they shared the same values to grow and further the sport. This merger of sorts took PickleballTournaments.com from a two-person company (as McCurley owned and operated the business with her brother at the time) to a forty-person company in about three years. This growth continues to this day.

Melissa McCurley & Her Mission to Serve Others Through Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

Looking to the future, McCurley notes that her goal is to leave PickleballTournaments.com better than she found it. She feels an immense sense of duty to the creators of PickleballTournaments.com and the pickleball community as a whole to continue to grow the brand and the sport. Today, PickleballTournaments.com is growing and improving by bringing in great, resourceful people, teaching them the knowledge and skills to manage pickleball tournaments from registration to bracketing to scheduling to running the tournament itself. These individuals are part of the PT Pro Team. PickleballTournaments.com is also providing PT University (a 5-day on-site program) to teach best practices with running a pickleball tournament, which stems far beyond just the software tool that PickleballTournaments.com provides. In other words, PickleballTournaments.com is embracing the fact that it is not just a software company. It is providing services from training to registration management to on-site tournament desk operations, and PickleballTournaments.com is bringing significantly more people into the fold in order to provide these services.

Melissa McCurley & Her Mission to Serve Others Through Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

But, above all, PickleballTournaments.com wants to grow the sport. The company knows the life-changing impacts that the sport of pickleball has on you, and that it can give you a sense of purpose. From newly retired folks that are looking for meaning in life, to young junior players looking for a purpose in a different way, like having a career in a sport, pickleball is for each of them and everyone in between. McCurley notes that this sense of community and purpose has been the same since the beginning, as one of the founders, Barney McCallum, first marketed the sport of pickleball as a “way to get off the sidelines of life.” McCurley, like the rest of us, appreciates this life-changing sense of purpose that the sport of pickleball provides and hopes to use PickleballTournaments.com as a way to give as many people as possible the opportunity to feel that sense of purpose and be a part of the pickleball community that has certainly changed her life already. That is Melissa’s higher purpose.

And, she is well on her way to serving her purpose beyond her wildest dreams, as she has already served hundreds of thousands in our pickleball community. Now, she wants to make it millions…

Melissa McCurley & Her Mission to Serve Others Through Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

BONUS: Melissa McCurley’s Picks for Must-Go Pickleball Tournaments in 2022:

As the President of PickleballTournaments.com, Melissa McCurley certainly knows pickleball tournaments best. And, with about 1,000 pickleball tournaments to pick from next year, which ones should you go to? Well, here are Melissa’s must-go pickleball tournaments for 2022:

  • PPA Orange County Cup in San Clemente, CA – The scenery is like no other. Plus, you get to watch some of best pros live.
  • APP Atlanta Metro Open in Griffin, GA – A pickleball tournament where every player feels like a pro! Also, the hospitality of the area is unbelievable.

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