Drury University announces the addition of co-ed pickleball team

Drury University > Newsroom > Newsroom Archives > Drury University announces the addition of co-ed pickleball team

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., November 3, 2023 – As pickleball grows in popularity around the country, Drury University will add a co-ed team to its 2024-25 non-NCAA sports offerings. Recruitment for the team is now taking place.

Pickleball, a racket or paddle sport, resembles tennis or table tennis and is played with a hollow plastic ball with paddles over a 34-inch net. It has been the fastest-growing sport in the United States for five consecutive years with more than 48 million participants having played it in the last year.

In August, Drury announced the construction of an outdoor recreation area, the Panther Pad, that will feature six pickleball courts. The facility, which is one of the first official pickleball courts on a college campus, was designed for intercollegiate competition and will be completed in spring 2024. The space was made possible by the generosity of several members of the O’Reilly family, including:

  • Austin O’Reilly
  • Matt and Ashley O’Reilly ‘03/-
  • Justin French and Lindsay O’Reilly French ‘94/’02
  • David and Stacey O’Reilly ‘71/-
  • Pamela O’Reilly


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

Pictured: Jarrod Smith

Jarrod Smith, currently serving as Drury’s men’s and women’s tennis coach head, will transition to head coach of the pickleball program. “I am absolutely elated to be leading a new program at the place I have called home for the past two decades,” said Smith. “We are passionate about the future of the sport and growing it, not only at Drury, but everywhere amongst collegiate institutions. 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.”

Smith has spent more than a decade in pickleball and traveled the country as an instructor and player in professional tournaments, winning national championships in men’s doubles and mixed doubles. Smith 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.”

The pickleball program will be one of the first programs in the country to feature a full-time head coach, scholarship opportunities for student-athletes, an on-campus facility, and work with an operating budget.

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.


Media Contact: Jasmine Cooper, Executive Director of University Communications and Media Relations , Office: (417) 873-7390, Email: