Drury University Offers New Pickleball Program with Team ONIX Pro as Head Coach

Jarrod Smith is a sponsored pickleball player with ONIX Pickleball. His full-time job is the men’s and women’s tennis coach at Drury University. The university recently announced on Nov. 3, 2023, it has added a new co-ed pickleball team to its sports offerings and Smith will be transitioning to head coach of the pickleball program. Drury University is a private, four-year university located in Springfield, Missouri. The school was founded in 1873.

Smith states “this is different than existing pickleball club teams at universities in that this is the first-ever University recognized team complete with a full-time coaching staff, operational budgets. and scholarships.”

“We are passionate about the future of the sport and growing it, not only at Drury, but everywhere amongst collegiate institutions,” says Smith. “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.”

Not only that, but this pickleball program will be one of the very first programs in the country that will have a full-time head coach for the sport, scholarship opportunities for student-athletes, on-campus pickleball facility, and the program will also work with an operating budget as well. The university will add the co-ed pickleball team to its 2024-2025 non-NCAA sports offerings, however recruitment for the team is already taking place.

According to Drury University, it has announced that the construction of an outdoor recreation area which will feature six pickleball courts and will be the first official ones on the campus thus far. The courts were designed for intercollegiate competitions and are set to be competed on in 2024.

“With the addition of pickleball, we are not only expanding our sports offerings but enhancing the overall campus experience,” said Drury University President John Beuerlein. “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.”

Smith has spent more than a decade playing the sport of pickleball and has traveled across the country as an instructor and player in professional tournaments, winning national championships in men’s doubles and mixed doubles. He has served as Drury’s women’s tennis head coach for 18 years and the men’s head coach for 13 years. He has gone 329-81 in women’s tennis with 16 NCAA-II tournament appearances and eight conference championships. Smith owns a 193-57 mark in men’s tennis with 10 national tournament appearances and three GLVC titles.

“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,” said Drury Vice President and Director of Athletics, Nyla Milleson. “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.”

Pickleball will be the 13th non-NCAA sport supported by Drury and the institution’s 34th sport under the University’s athletics department. Drury added six club sports (men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s rugby, women’s rugby, men’s hockey, and STUNT) in 2022-23.

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the world right now, and ONIX is ecstatic to hear the traction that the sport is getting, especially on college campuses. We are thrilled for Team ONIX member Jarrod Smith as he begins his pickleball head coaching position and continues to grow the sport of pickleball.

Learn more about Team ONIX at the link here