In response to the increasing popularity of pickleball nationwide, Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, has announced the inclusion of a co-ed team in its non-NCAA sports offerings for the 2024-25 season.
The university is currently in the process of recruiting members for this team.
This facility, a pioneering addition to college campuses, is specifically designed to accommodate intercollegiate competition and is slated for completion in the spring of 2024.
The project was made possible through the generous contributions of various members of the O’Reilly family, including Austin O’Reilly, Matt and Ashley O’Reilly ‘03/-, Justin French and Lindsay O’Reilly French ‘94/’02, David and Stacey O’Reilly ‘71/-, and Pamela O’Reilly.
“A Robust Sense Of Community”
Drury President John Beuerlein spoke enthusiastically about the expansion, “With the addition of pickleball, we are not only expanding our sports offerings but enhancing the overall campus experience.
“This exciting addition reaffirms Drury’s dedication to providing diverse opportunities for our students, fostering a vibrant campus life and a robust sense of community.”
Jarrod Smith, presently serving as the head coach for Drury’s men’s and women’s tennis teams, will transition into the role of head coach for the pickleball program.
Smith could not contain his excitement as he said, “I am absolutely elated to be leading a new program at the place I have called home for the past two decades.
“We are passionate about the future of the sport and growing it, not only at Drury but everywhere amongst collegiate institutions.
“The Springfield community has been so supportive of all pickleball endeavors locally, and I know there will be an amazing excitement for this addition to our region.”
National Championship Winner
Drawing on over a decade of experience in pickleball, Smith has crisscrossed the country as both an instructor and player in professional tournaments, clinching national championships in men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
With 18 years at the helm of Drury’s women’s tennis team and 13 years leading the men’s team, Smith has amassed an impressive record, boasting 329 wins and 81 losses in women’s tennis, along with 16 NCAA-II tournament appearances and eight conference championships.
In men’s tennis, he maintains a record of 193 wins and 57 losses, with 10 national tournament appearances and three GLVC titles.
“Enthusiasm And Dedication”
Drury Vice President and Director of Athletics, Nyla Milleson, expressed her gratitude.
“I want to thank Jarrod Smith for embracing this new role with enthusiasm and dedication. We are incredibly fortunate to have one of the nation’s top instructors and advocates for this sport on our campus.
“I look forward to the opportunities he will generate and the positive impact the program will have on our students and the entire Drury community.”
Thirteen Non-NCAA Sports
The pickleball program at Drury will be among the first in the country to feature a full-time head coach, offer scholarship opportunities for student-athletes, operate with an on-campus facility, and have a dedicated budget.
This addition brings the total number of non-NCAA sports supported by Drury to 13 and contributes to the university’s overall offering of 34 sports within its athletics department.
Additionally, in the 2022-23 academic year, Drury introduced six new club sports: men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s rugby, women’s rugby, men’s hockey, and STUNT.
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