What It’s Like Being a Pro Pickleball-Playing Mom

Megan Fudge, pro pickleball player, poses with her family

Pro pickleball players are on the road for well over half of the year, entertaining us and competing for their livelihoods. It seems the least we can do is acknowledge that this job couldn’t be done by just anyone.

It takes dedication, sacrifice, and hard work; and if you’re a mom, you may know something about that.

There are several parent athletes on the pickleball circuit who make it work, week by week. Each of them have different family dynamics and routines, but all of them make sacrifices for the sake of their jobs.

The Kitchen spoke to three of them to understand their parental perspectives.

An Intense Schedule

Allyce Wilson-Jones, a regular on the PPA Tour and member of the D.C. Pickleball Team, is on the road 32 weeks per year between playing in tournaments and running clinics. 

“I have a highly supportive husband who loves what I do,” Allyce says. 

Since he also has a full time job, they often have to divide and conquer handling home life and the endless tasks which come with it.

“Thankfully, he has some flexibility with his career to get kids to the places they need to be when I’m not home,” she says. 

“But the hardest thing about being away is when I miss my kids’ softball or soccer games. I wish I could always be there for them in that way.”

Of course, even when Allyce is home, there’s a rigorous schedule to uphold. She’s up early each day, training her body and mind for the next event.

“My daily schedule as a pro starts at 5 am and goes until I pick my kids up from school. After that’s done, I get to be ‘fun mom,’ helping my kids with their extracurricular activities and homework.

“That helps make me a better athlete overall, being able to take your mind somewhere else instead of on the game 24/7.”

Normally, Allyce’s family has to miss most of her tournaments. But whenever she plays close to home on the West Coast, they’re in the stands.

“I love when my kids come to my tournaments. They remind me to be a good example on the court…and to try not to swear so much while I’m on it.

“I actually sleep better, too, when my family is with me at tournaments. I feel more at home.”

Becoming a Role Model

Lina Padegimaite, who plays on the PPA Tour and for the Brooklyn Aces, is also on the road for over half the year…but her son comes to many of them.

Still, planning those logistics comes with its challenges.

“I take my son to a lot of events with me and hire nannies, mostly via the Bambino app. It takes extra planning to make everything work, but I am very grateful to share all of the moments with him.”

Being a role model is an important part of the legacy Lina hopes to impart in the world of professional sports. Once she’s done with regular competitive play, she hopes to start her own juniors pickleball academy.

“I love pursuing my dreams and goals as a professional athlete and a mom. Being both makes me work even harder and become more efficient while we plan training, workouts, and our lives around the tour schedule."

When it’s a Family Affair

Megan Fudge’s story is a little different. Her family’s entire year revolves around pickleball. 

Megan and her husband, Ryler DeHeart, are regulars on the APP Tour and travel between events together in their RV.  

"Every week, we’re in a different place. We gave up our home base in Tampa to keep hitting up tournaments,” she says.

“Being a parent on the pro tour is obviously challenging at times, but I’m obviously super fortunate that the circuit allows us to have kids with us and that there’s a friendly, welcoming environment.”

Megan’s children also compete in different divisions, meaning she and Ryler can often cheer them on between matches.

She says there were a couple tournaments where she couldn’t take her family with her. 

“Those felt very different, I felt like something was missing. I definitely love having them on the sidelines cheering me on, reminding me what I’m doing this for. 

“Life’s just a little too easy when I’m not traveling with my kids.”

Many thanks to Lina Padegimaite for the idea to write this article.

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