DA Hosts First Student Pickleball Tournament

Valerie Hamlin, DA Director of Marketing & PR
Middle School Students Participate in First Denver Academy Pickleball Tournament
USA Pickleball Provides Prizes

For more than five years, DA has been teaching pickleball as part of its racquet sports unit in Physical Education (PE) classes. This year, the DA coaching staff has put together a round-robin tournament as the finale to the unit which has caught the attention of USA Pickleball. The co-ed doubles tournament included DA Middle School students with prizes from USA Pickleball including branded paddles for the top six players and the first-place team will receive an annual individual membership to the organization. In addition, Denver Academy will receive a Youth Program Provider (YPP) Membership, which gives access to the official youth pickleball playbook, discounts on equipment for the school, free access to the youth pickleball video series, and digital copies of Pickleball Magazine.
The competition kicked off on Monday, Feb. 22, and took place all week during PE classes with the semi-finals and finals on Monday, March 1, and Tuesday, March 2. The all-around tournament winners were Peter H. and Joel D. Fair Play Awards were also given to Ted G., Gunnar C., Maddy W., and Rose G. 
The tournament took place on the Denver Academy Campus in the James E. Loan Athletic Center, 4400 E Iliff Ave., Denver, CO 80222. The James E. Loan Athletic Center opened in May of 2019 and provides a 25,000 square-foot facility including a multi-use gym with 500 seats as well as locker rooms, a weight room, and a dance studio. The gym is part of DA’s 50th Anniversary Building on Excellence campaign. Find out more here
As part of its curriculum, Denver Academy provides Physical Education every day for students in Elementary through 6th Grade and as an elective for Middle and High School students. Pickleball is offered for middle school students. Due to the sport’s popularity among students and the fact that it’s a great physically-distant activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, DA coaches decided to add the element of a tournament this year.  

“A lot of kids who don’t typically like team sports love pickleball,” said Denver Academy PE Teacher and former USA Olympic Mountain Biking Coach Ben Ollett. “The sport is a great physically-distant activity during this time as we navigate through the pandemic. It has really become a favorite of both teachers and students, so we decided to make the unit more robust this year by adding a tournament at the end.”
USA Pickleball found out via social media that DA was engaging its students in the sport and reached out to collaborate. “USA Pickleball loves seeing the excitement of our youth playing the sport and with Coach Ben’s mutual enthusiasm for being able to teach the students how to play by sharing a Twitter photo, we wanted to learn more about their PE program,” said Director of Media Relations for USA Pickleball Laura Gainor. “We’re grateful for the robust program that Denver Academy is offering their students and their interest in organizing future camp programs and tournaments to allow us to continue being the fastest growing sport in the United States.”
USA Pickleball will be providing branded paddles and an annual membership to the first-place winners of the tournament as prizes and is in discussions with DA about possible collaborations in the future through their Youth Program Provider Membership offering.