National Pickleball League Makes History Combine 50+

Posted: April 5, 2023  |  4/5/2023

The National Pickleball League (NPL) made history by holding its inaugural combine in search of athletes 50 years of age or older. This combine was the first ever, not just for pickleball, but for ANY 50+ sport. I love it! The combine provided a venue for high-level 50+ pickleball players to show their skills in front of NPL team owners and recruiters. Many of the current, ranked Senior Pro champions had already earned draft positions.

What is the NPL?

The National Pickleball League is a nationwide team competition for Champions Division (50+) professional pickleball players. To be launched this month, team owners will select a city in which their team will represent, as well as building their team through a live player draft that will include the biggest 50+ stars from current competition. It’s awesome that NPL supports senior champions, after all, seniors represent the majority of all players and are the ones who have grown our sport the first 40 years. If it weren’t for seniors, pickleball would not have survived through the decades.

You might be asking yourself, what in the heck is a “combine”?

An event that combines tests of athletic skills including speed, power, strength, and agility to identify the top players for a particular sport. Combines are most commonly known in the football world for collegiate athletes hoping to be recruited to the National Football League (NFL). But other sports have combines including basketball – NBA Draft Combine, and soccer. But for pickleball seniors (50+) history was made in this first-ever combine for pickleball players.

The NPL Combine was held in Oklahoma City at Chicken N Pickle, an indoor/outdoor entertainment complex.  The two-day event included round-robin doubles competition with multiple partners. There were 40 men and 40 women competing from ages 50 – 73 with all players hoping to increase their chances of being drafted by an NPL team. All the players did great and all were excited about making the trek from all over the USA and Singapore. Yes, the combine had 4 players from Singapore attend, 3 women and one man.

I was fortunate to be in attendance, scouting players for Bob Strommen, owner of the team NAPLES JBB UNITED, one of the 6 NPL teams. It did seem strange for me to not be playing and competing, but it was fun to be watching and scouting.

One player shared with me: “If I don’t win a spot into this year’s draft, I already feel like a winner by having this awesome experience of playing good pickleball with people my age, meeting the NPL co-founders and team owners, but most of all, making new friends for life!”  That is what pickleball is all about – friendships and fun!

Best of luck to all players, you never know what’s going to happen during the NPL draft … stay tuned!

FREE GIVEAWAY!!

If you are reading this, then you can enter to win a FREE NPL hat. Just reply below in the comments and share you’d like to win a hat, and you’ll be entered into a random drawing on April 15th. 3 winners will be announced in the comments below – GOOD LUCK! 

47 comments on “National Pickleball League Makes History Combine 50+”

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    You’re doing great and promoting this sport. I love your attitude….

    CEO pickleballopinion

  2. WINNERS OF THE 3 NPL HATS ARE:

    #1 PAT FISHER – just because the first to read my blog post and comment. A+ for speed Pat!

    And then from the random drawing:

    #2 STU RIVCHIN

    #3 KATHY KERST

    Congrats to the winners, and good job to everyone else submitting your name. Be on the outlook for more free stuff. See you all on the courts!

    PAT, STU and KATHY please email your mailing address to Je******@al***********.com

  3. My niece was drafted by the Naples JBB and I would love to win a hat. Also, how and when can we start buying team items. Go Kristy!

    1. Bill that is so great!! I will get to know Kristy more, for NAPLES JBB UNITED team is going to have some serious fun!

  4. Love your blog to capture the Combine. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to meet and talk with you.
    You are 🔥ALL IN🔥

    I can’t wait to host the first NPL tournament at Chicken N Pickle, Grapevine!

  5. Put me in for the hat! Would love to wear it, especially if my fellow PB Player is drafted on Friday. Cannot wait for the draft picks and the future of the NPL. Thank you!

  6. Great article! Also a combine participant, I share the sentiments as the player in the article. I seriously am having combine withdraws..it was such a great experience and opportunity. Oh, and I love that hat 👒

  7. Darlene Vendegna

    Fun! Great article, I’d like to win a hat and follow this new league. I’m not good enough to compete in it, but it sure will be fun to watch. We have some great players in the S.F. Bay Area. Hopefully somebody will form a team here. The area is ripe for pickleball facilities.

  8. Great announcement!!! Can’t wait to watch this league. It will be great to watch pros my age.

    I would love a hat!!!

    Thanks

  9. Jennifer!

    Thank you for sharing news about the combine event & for offering the opportunity to win that cool hat!
    Hope I do & look forward to seeing you at camp or clinic again next season @ NPC!

  10. Hoping for a hat 🧢

    Thanks for explaining NPL and glad this exists as it just seems so typical of pickleball that it would!

  11. Thanks for sharing about this event Jennifer! I met you at The Villages Pickleball Club meeting in 2020 & bought your book. I would love to wear the NPL hat! I’ve been playing since 2007!

  12. Love to have a MLP hat. Great article. I’m from Oklahoma & would love to see some Oklahoma friends on the team!

  13. So exciting! And Jennifer, thank you for educating us on this next step in the amazing pickleball world. As the anorth Bay pickleball ambassador overseeing 4 counties in California, I would proudly wear this hat and spread the word.

  14. This new group is a wonderful creation. I look forward to seeing the success of the Combine!

    I would be proud to don your new hat as well!

    GOOD LUCK!

  15. Hi Jennifer – I would LOVE to wear a NPL hat, Glad our highly skilled 50+ pickleball players have a league of their own. Looking forward to watching matches played by the greats!

    Sincerely,
    Helen White

  16. Betsy Kenniston

    Wow! Sad you aren’t playing! Would make it extra exciting to watch!
    Ok…..put me in for the hat! !

  17. Love all this stuff….I really miss watching the senior players Live at pickleball events. Oh and YES….I’d love a hat!

  18. Thanks for highlighting this event and for explaining what it is. I’m all for it. I’m also thinking that something like it needs to be created for 70+ players (ha ha!). We don’t want players like your fabulous mom and dad to be excluded from exciting events like these. I would love a chance to win a FREE NPL hat!

    Fran Myer

  19. Kimberly Larson

    This is great news hearing about the NPL first combine draft for ages 50+. I’ve been playing for 4 years now and absolutely love the sport. It’s great cardio workout and great for the heart ❤️ I’m entering my name for a chance to win the NPL hat which is adorable!!!

  20. Dawnie Desmarais

    This is such an inspiration to all athletes to show you can compete at a high level as you gain (age) experience

  21. This is so great to hear Jennifer. I’m 70 and love playing the game and was concerned that it will become a youth oriented sport since it has now become so popular. A hat would be fun. Thanks

  22. This sounds like another exciting event adding to the allure of Pickleball! Please enter me into the drawing for a free hat❤️

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