Court Connections: Engage Pickleball's Story

Apr 16, 2024

Court Connections: Engage Pickleball's Story

Welcome to this special 'Court Connections' feature on Engage Pickleball, where we shine a spotlight on their inspiring journey and commitment to uniting generations through the sport we all love. Founded by Robert and Jodi Elliott and carried forward by their children, Josh and Rachel, Engage Pickleball embodies the spirit of family, passion, and innovation. Join us as we delve into their story, exploring the values and vision that drive their brand forward and continue to make a lasting impact on the pickleball community.

How did Robert and Jodi Elliott's introduction to pickleball through Jodi’s parents influence the founding of Engage Pickleball?

The genesis of Engage Pickleball can be traced back to the introduction of the sport to Robert and Jodi Elliott by Jodi’s parents, who in 2005, relocated to The Villages, Florida. Though the couple began playing pickleball regularly in January 2013, it wasn't until later that year that they triumphed in a Naples, Florida tournament, seizing gold, that their dedication to the game intensified. During their training sessions, Robert noticed a gap in Jodi's equipment, hindering her gameplay. In pursuit of a solution, they explored various paddle options before Jodi posed a simple question: Could Robert create Jodi a paddle? Six months later, the Encore paddle was born, becoming a favorite among top professionals and propelling Engage Pickleball into prominence. At the USAPA Nationals that year, Engage had approximately 50% of overall medals between Pro and Age events. Today, the Encore and Pursuit lines continue to thrive as top sellers, proudly crafted in the USA with Engage's expanding workforce now exceeding 70 employees.

What values and principles guide Engage Pickleball's mission to unite generations through the sport?

Engage is dedicated to promoting inclusivity, family values, and community engagement. We actively organize events to strengthen our ties with the local community, including charity donations, camps, and clinics, and 'learn to play' sessions with our local first responders and schools. These events provide participants with the chance to enjoy food, drinks, and pickleball instruction in a welcoming atmosphere.

Our mission is to create an environment where people of all ages and backgrounds feel welcome to enjoy pickleball. We work tirelessly to ensure that the sport is accessible to everyone, regardless of skill level or experience, fostering a sense of belonging within our community. Additionally, we understand the importance of family connections and actively encourage family involvement in pickleball. Whether it's playing together, attending tournaments, or supporting each other's endeavors within the sport, we believe that shared experiences on the pickleball court strengthen family bonds and enrich the pickleball community as a whole.

Can you share a memorable moment or experience that highlights the importance of family and intergenerational play at Engage Pickleball?

One poignant moment exemplifying the significance of family and intergenerational play at Engage Pickleball occurred when Robert and Jodi's children, Joshua and Rachel, teamed up against their grandparents. Initially outplayed, the grandparents easily won every match. As time went on, the children and the grandparents were about equal in wins. After more time, Jodi got a phone call from her father expressing the need for private lessons…the grandparents were no longer winning any games at all. This phone call really highlighted the sport's ability to bring diverse generations together in friendly competition and shared enjoyment. Such cherished memories underscore the profound impact of pickleball in strengthening familial bonds and nurturing a sense of closeness within the Engage community.

How has the involvement of Jodi and Robert's children, Josh and Rachel, shaped the growth and direction of Engage Pickleball as a family-owned business?

The involvement of Joshua and Rachel in Engage Pickleball's journey has been instrumental in shaping the company's growth and direction. From assisting with shipping and assembly during the company's inception to assuming more significant roles as adults, their contributions have been invaluable. As homeschooled children, they accompanied the family to tournaments, becoming the original, America’s First Family of Pickleball, which fostered a unique blend of work and play. Now integral members of the Engage team and being paid with dollars instead of Skittles and Starbursts, Joshua and Rachel not only contribute to the company's success but also enjoy the satisfaction of being part of a thriving family-owned business. Their involvement not only solidifies familial ties but also provides them with invaluable real-life work experiences, enriching their professional development and strengthening their bond with Engage Pickleball.

What else is important for people to know about Engage Pickleball?

Jodi and Robert Elliott's journey with Engage Pickleball is indeed a remarkable example of entrepreneurship and dedication. Starting from a humble garage startup in 2015 to becoming a significant player in the pickleball industry with over 70 dedicated employees and close to 20,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space is no small feat.Today, Engage Pickleball is one of the largest pickleball companies in the world.

Their commitment to keeping manufacturing operations within the USA for their flagship Pursuit and Encore line of paddles is commendable. Not only does this decision reflect their dedication to maintaining high-quality standards, but it also demonstrates their support for local communities and the American manufacturing sector.

Robert Elliott's background adds a unique dimension to Engage's success story. As an engineer (with a passion for chemistry and physics) , former Division 1 tennis player, and accomplished pickleball instructor and professional player (with pro level medals from Tournament of Champions and US Open along with medaling at the USAPA Nationals), he brings a wealth of expertise to paddle design. This intimate understanding of the sport's demands, combined with his technical knowledge, ensures that Engage paddles are crafted and designed like no other with both professional and everyday players in mind.

By keeping all production processes in-house for their main line of paddles, Engage sets itself apart from their main competitors who outsource manufacturing. This hands-on approach from design, fabrication, graphics and assembly allows for meticulous quality control and attention to detail at every stage of paddle production, resulting in products that meet the highest standards.

Overall, Engage's combination of innovation, expertise, and dedication to American manufacturing positions them as a leader in the pickleball market, providing players with paddles they can trust to elevate their game.

As we conclude our dive into the world of Engage Pickleball, we're left inspired by their dedication to fostering connections and pushing the boundaries of innovation in our beloved sport. From their humble beginnings to their ongoing pursuit of excellence, Engage Pickleball exemplifies the spirit of unity and passion that defines the pickleball community. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Robert, Josh, Rachel, and the entire Engage team for their invaluable contributions to the game we all cherish. Here's to many more years of success, growth, and generations uniting on the pickleball court!

Share YOUR Story

Court Connections in April sponsored by Engage Pickleball