Utah Tech University is proving that pickleball is for more than weekend warriors.
The St. George university is now supporting competitive collegiate pickleball players with scholarships.
Provided by UCP Holdings, a company located in St. George the scholarships will cover six credit hours for students who are involved in leadership within the Pickleball Club or play competitively for the university. The four initial recipients of the scholarship are Kylar Lemmon, Averee Beck, Dylan Ciampini and Logan Rosenbach.
“It means a lot to be a part of an organization and community that not only have the best collegiate pickleball talent in the nation, but also come together to invest their resources back into our students,” Utah Tech University Pickleball Club President Hunter Aiono said in a news release. “It’s the literal embodiment of being a Trailblazer — setting this precedent and moving into territory that has never been touched by any other school.”
This comes as the popularity of the sport has skyrocketed in Utah, in large part due to participation in the southwest region of the state. St. George has spearheaded the response in demand, approving a $2 million expansion of the Little Valley pickleball complex last year. And while officials estimate that over 75% of players are 55 and older, college students are jumping onto the court as well.
“Pickleball is absolutely blowing up and shows no sign of stopping,” Aiono said. “This is especially true on the collegiate scene.”
Utah Tech competes in DUPR Collegiate Pickleball, the only collegiate-level pickleball league. Last season, the team finished second nationally and has already qualified to compete in the DUPR Collegiate National Championship in November.
For those who don’t play competitively, Utah Tech recently renovated six pickleball courts in the Human Performance Center to host the Pickleball Club, which welcomes over 80 students to their weekly club nights.