Pickleball boomed during the pandemic, and Austin residents Grace Moore and Maggie Brown took note.
Flashback: The pair, who became friends during recess in elementary school, started playing pickleball at a neighbor's court as the coronavirus raged. They found the sport — played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes on what looks like a miniature tennis court — to be a fun way to get outside while socially distancing from others.
Moore recalled Brown saying they should make paddles because "there are none out there that are cool. They all have this 2004 look."
- "It seemed like a lot of paddles were catering more toward this competitive audience, but our experience with pickleball is super recreational," Moore told Axios. "Grab a drink, grab a friend, let's just play. Maybe we keep score, maybe we don't. We wanted to cater to that audience."
Recess Pickleball became their "quarantine business," Moore said. They launched five months ago with trendy paddles named after Austin spots like "Barton Springs," "Hyde Park" and "Zilker." They also offer kids' paddles, balls, grip tape, socks and other gear.
Zoom out: The sport took the nation by storm during the pandemic, with cities building municipal courts and homeowners associations drafting regulatory ground rules, Axios' Jennifer Kingson reported in February.
And it became clear there was an appetite for well-designed gear, Moore said. On launch day, the co-founders connected with the CEO of activewear brand Outdoor Voices and soon partnered with the Austin-based company on a new line of athletic apparel.
Now, Recess Pickleball is the official sponsor of Major League Pickleball, the new professional league that will hold its Season One event at Dripping Springs' Dreamland this weekend.
- "We couldn't have picked a better city for all of this to happen," Moore said. "We're really excited for how Major League Pickleball is going to affect and grow the game in general."
If you go: Swing by Recess Pickleball's pop-up shop.
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