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Future of Collegiate Pickleball: Noah Suemnick’s Vision

Future of Collegiate Pickleball: Noah Suemnick, the visionary founder of the National Collegiate Pickleball Association (NCPA), began his journey in the sport of pickleball during his college years at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Like many college students, Noah found himself drawn to the sport post-college, seeking a way to stay active and connected with his peers. It was at Point Loma that Noah decided to start his first pickleball club, driven by a desire to bring the sport he loved to his campus.

“I just graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University last year. I started the club because I wanted to bring pickleball to my college. I started running local tournaments, and then other Arizona colleges got wind of what we were doing.” – (Noah)

From Club to Association

What began as a small college club quickly evolved into something much larger. As Noah’s tournaments gained popularity, the idea of forming a national organization took shape. Recognizing a gap in the collegiate sports landscape, Noah envisioned a structured and competitive platform for college pickleball players across the nation.

“We provide a space for them to come out and compete among the best college players in the nation. We rank them nationally, both university-wise and individually, which makes it very fun and competitive. These kids have only four years to compete, so it’s very much a ‘now or never’ situation.” – (noah)

Initially, Noah engaged with about six schools in the San Diego area, including SDSU, USD, and UCSD. However, he quickly realized that the East Coast was more developed in terms of collegiate pickleball. Despite this initial disparity, the movement began to gain momentum on the West Coast and beyond.

“Back in college, we were only working with about six schools, but now we have over 200 universities with pickleball clubs and we’re expecting that number to grow to 600 by the end of 2025.” – (noah)

Funding and Support

One of the significant challenges for collegiate pickleball clubs is securing funding and creating a competitive yet welcoming environment. While some universities, like Utah Tech, have started offering scholarships for pickleball players, such initiatives are still rare.

“Utah Tech may have been the first college to give out scholarships. Our goal is to have more universities recognize pickleball as an athletic sport and support it as a club sport. By the end of 2025, we hope to see many more scholarships being awarded.”

The NCPA has structured its operations into regional divisions to manage the growing number of participating colleges. These regions include California, Texas, Ohio, Florida, and Utah, each hosting its regional tournaments and competitions.

“We divide the colleges into regions and categorize each state within those regions.” Noah explains. “This regional structure helps us manage the competitions and rankings more effectively.”

The Future of Collegiate Pickleball

Looking ahead, Noah sees a dual focus for collegiate pickleball: maintaining high-level competitive play while also catering to the social and recreational aspects of the sport. This approach ensures that all students, regardless of skill level, have the opportunity to participate and enjoy the sport.

“We’re running a competitive Collegiate tour, but we’re also focusing on the more fun, social side of pickleball. This way, even players who aren’t the best at their university can still compete and experience a college event.” – (noah)

As the NCPA continues to grow, Noah is preparing for the possibility of integrating with the NCAA in the future. While this collaboration may still be a few years away, Noah is laying the groundwork to ensure a smooth transition.

“We’re focusing on the competitive side now, but we’re also preparing for potential collaboration with the NCAA. This preparation involves being flexible and ready for whatever the future holds.” – (noah)

Noah Suemnick’s journey from starting a small college pickleball club to founding the National Collegiate Pickleball Association is a testament to his vision and dedication. As more universities recognize the value of pickleball, competitively and recreationally, the sport’s future looks bright.

News in Brief: Future of Collegiate Pickleball

Noah Suemnick, founder of the National Collegiate Pickleball Association (NCPA), began his pickleball journey at Point Loma Nazarene University, where he started a club to bring the sport to campus. What started locally has grown into a national organization spanning over 200 universities, set to expand to 600 by 2025.

The NCPA offers competitive rankings and regional tournaments, fostering a blend of high-level competition and social engagement. With a vision for potential NCAA integration and a focus on scholarships and club support, Noah’s leadership ensures collegiate pickleball’s growth and inclusivity, empowering students to excel on and off the court.

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