Melissa McCurley: The Hardest Working Person in Pickleball

I had a blast writing about the many people that helped this little sport grow.  But there are many people I didn’t include in that first post.   Folks like Melissa McCurley.
melissa mccurley
From time to time, I want to introduce you to some of the amazing people I have met along the way.  Today, I want to introduce you to my dear friend, Melissa McCurley.  Melissa is probably the hardest working person in pickleball. I first met Melissa at my first Grand Canyon games in 2015.  I was going to be running a tournament a few months later, and Melissa took time to orient and educate me while still running the Grand Canyon Games.  She puts in so much time to Pickleballtournaments.com but also has time to volunteer and promote the sport. You often also see her family members working behind the scenes at events.
I began by asking Melissa McCurley how she was introduced to pickleball?
Around 2007/2008 a relative of ours brought a pickleball set to our family Christmas in Texas and we’d play it in our driveway during the Holidays.  We were so addicted we would put shop lights up to play on into the night!  We thought we were the only ones who knew what pickleball was!  So you can imagine my surprise when I moved to the Phoenix area in 2009 to find real courts existed with real players winning National championships! When I learned of this pickleball craziness here in Arizona,  I called my mom back in Texas.  I told her she had to get out here to see this!  She and my stepdad Bruce flew out in April 2010, flew back to Texas and put their house up for sale!!  They say it was because I was living in Arizona, but I think it was for the pickleball!!
What did you do before you ran Pickleballtournaments.com?
I joined the Navy after high school and served in Operation Desert Storm. After my service I continued to serve the military as a civil servant and as a contractor for almost 20 years. In those 20 years I worked for EDS (a Ross Perot Company), Hewlett Packard and American Express as an Information Technology Executive running large data and voice networks all around the world.  So in a sense, when pickleballtournaments.com found me (see story pickleballchannel.com/lanius) it felt like it was part of my destiny or in other words meant to be.
What are some of your personal goals in pickleball?
To continue to learn, grow and be the best I can be so people playing in pickleball tournaments have the best experience possible…oh wait, did you mean my goals for playing pickleball?  Well, since I don’t see much court time as a result of my schedule with pickleballtournaments.com, let’s just say my goal is to play at least once a week and to not get a zero when I do get the rare chance to play in a tournament!  It’s the little things!!

Many people don’t realize that Melissa is an awesome player. She is such a hard worker on the court too when she gets to play. I only wish she could play more events.   I asked her about the future of Pickleballtournaments.com.

We continue to see an explosion in growth for the sport and for tournaments.  To give a small example, we had 130 tournaments on the system in 2015, 250 in 2016 and in 2017 we are already at 201 and it’s February 2nd…..as a result, we are working through how to keep up with this growth while providing consulting, training and adding new features and functions on the system for tournaments.  We recently deployed our email communications platform that supports bulk email while providing the tournament director statistics on delivery rate, open rate and unsubscribe rate.  Our volunteer management capability was launched at the USAPA Ambassador Retreat last September. We are about to launch an automated event closures option with an automated wait list function for the players and tournament directors.  This will really help those tournaments that fill up in seconds, minutes, hours or a few short days. We are also about to release an option that will require players to pay before they are considered entered into a tournament.  This has been a big request for the larger tournaments where chasing payments has become labor intensive……next on the horizon is text messaging for court assignments, mobile friendly enhancments and….well you’ll have to stay tuned for more and there is more.

I’m still pushing for an app:)   Where is your favorite tournament location?  
Any place that is having a tournament is my favorite tournament location!  I love pickleball tournaments!!
What kind of changes have you seen since you’ve been involved with pickleball?
More than I can list here, but in a nutshell:  all the new faces…the explosive growth. It was like pickleball was growing at a gradual pace and then boom it took off like a rocket ship. The number of venues to play, the addition of paid staff for the USAPA (all doing a great job by the way), large sponsors, new pickleball companies, the pickleball show, pickleballbnb, the pickleball forum, pickleball news network, pickleball travelers, RV Picklers,  the addition of a super senior circuit, a professional organization, the significant growth overseas, more tennis players than ever,  pickleball on TV..I mean when I saw that CBS Sports Network TV bucket hanging over the top of a center stadium court, I had to pause as I thought we would see that at some point, but not as quick as we did!!  And this has occurred in just the past 3 years and a lot of it in just the past year.  I could go on, but these are the highlights that stand out!
I have to say seeing that bucket for the filming for the finals at the US open was an inspiring moment. To be witness to this event and be on that court could not have been more rewarding.   I asked Melissa, why she thinks pickleball is so addicting for so many?
Because it’s fun and it’s social and it’s a sport you can play for a lifetime….when 4 players are on the court with similar skill and ability it’s hard to have much more fun than that!!
What is your most memorable Pickleball moment?  
On April 30th, 2016, which was my birthday and also Championship Saturday at the US Open, I was literally pulled out of the tournament operations center to get to center court to go handle some kind of problem that was being reported…..when I got to center court there were people in the stands and VIP tent singing happy birthday while my family presented me with a cake.  Right after the cake, the organizers of the US Open presented me and my brother with Excellence Awards for our commitment, dedication and hard work in support of the first ever US Open.  It’s a moment I will never forget. 🙂   But wait, I guess beating Sarah Ansboury and Gigi LeMaster in sanctioned tournament play is pretty memorable too!  I don’t think many people know that! LOL LOL

I have no recollection of this 🙂   But let me ask, what is in your pickleball bag?

About 5 computers and a paddle and of course a bottle of Dr Pepper so I can stay hydrated!!
Hydration is key!
I hope you will all got to know Melissa McCurley a bit more and please make sure to shoot her a thanks for all of her hard work the next time you see her at a tournament.
melissa mccurley