On His Way to Becoming a Pro ~ A Conversation with Drew Holder
Even though we were already Instagram friends, the first time we met Drew Holder in person was at the PPA Atlanta Open. He showed up at our pop-up shop and introduced himself. We were immediately won over by his easy smile, friendly nature, and positive energy. It felt like we had always known him…maybe that’s because he is a fellow Michigander from Trenton, MI. Drew was playing singles on this particular 90 degree day in May. In between matches, he would stop at our shop to chat and update us on his matches. He had so much energy and was never winded or tired after competing. Drew won a silver medal that day at 5.0 singles even though—here is the kicker—he had only been playing pickleball for about 10 months! Naturally we asked him if he was a tennis player because he was so unbelievaly talented at pickleball. He said, “No, I played hockey and baseball in high school. After a shoulder tear and surgery, I switched to soccer when I was a junior in high school. I ended up playing soccer at Eastern Michigan University, and then I was a kicker for 3 years on the football team at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.”
Drew is currently a full-time student at Florida Atlantic University studying special education, working towards a doctorate degree to teach in the field of special education. He also intends to write grants for non-profit organizations that are focused on helping those with special needs. In his spare time, he travels around to pickleball tournaments. Ultimately he would love to make pickleball his main gig competing on the professional pickleball tour. Drew is willing to put in the work to make his dream of being a professional pickleball player a reality. When he isn’t competing in tournaments or studying, Drew also loves spending the summers working at a non-profit day camp called SNAP (Special Needs Activity Program) where he takes kids to movies, zoos, swimming, or the ice rink.
When we asked why he wants to work with people who have special needs, Drew responded, “I could come up with thousands of reasons why I love working with people who have special needs. I never realized how big of an impact they would have on my life. It is a blessing to spend time with them, and I have learned so much from them. They just make me smile.”
Recently, we hung out with Drew at the Beer City Open in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He came by our pop-up shop the first day and every day thereafter and offered to help us with set-up, take-down, or whatever we needed. Our pop-up shop became his home away from home. He also rounded up friends to play our fun new game that Jojo and I created to play during downtime at tournaments…Pickle Pong! Pickle Pong is a game where beer pong meets pickleball! Think of beer pong, but you use your pickleball paddle to hit pickleballs into giant beer mugs. Drew and our other pickleball friends at the BCO loved playing it! Winners of Pickle Pong won a very cool Pickle Pong tee designed by Jojo.
Pickle Pong Champ!
Everyone’s favorite pro Lee Whitwell enjoying a bev in her Pickle Pong tee
Drew also picked out a few of his fave jojo+lo tees and posted pics wearing our apparel on the medal stand.
Drew wearing gold and jojo+lo 1965 tee
Seriously, he took up pickleball about a year ago, qualified for Nationals by winning the golden ticket at the Beer City Open, and finished undefeated in the men’s 5.0 19+ singles division! He shared with us that it was his proudest achievement thus far because he won the tournament in his home state of Michigan.
On the sidelines, you can find Drew chilling before matches listening to his go-to artist, Lany. After matches, he relaxes by watching pickleball on YouTube…learning the most from watching JW Johnson. He says he should probably prepare more before matches, but he just goes with the flow and plays his game. He always double-checks to make sure he has all of his pickleball gear, including an orange Takeya water bottle, liquid IV, bananas, and of course a fresh jojo+lo tee to change into before heading to the winners medal stand.
And we are proud to announce…we are so fortunate to have Drew Holder as a Brand Ambassador for jojo+lo Pickleball Wear ~ With Flair!
Drew loves pickleball because it has provided him the opportunity to meet so many different people and make new friends from all over the country. He loves to travel and has been fortunate to play at some incredible venues. His favorite venue so far is Lifetime Fitness in Atlanta …we agree with that! Although Drew has excelled at hockey, baseball, soccer and football, what he loves most about pickleball is, “it is everything I could ever want to get out of a sport.” Jojo and I agree most pickleball players of all levels have fallen in love with pickleball for the exact same reason. We also think Drew’s potential in pickleball, like his energy, is boundless. The best advice he has received was from his friend and fellow pickleball player, Jayshawn Campbell, “don’t forget your roots—remember who you played with, and who helped you get to where you are now.” Drew is grounded, hard-working, chill, tireless, kind and humble. This makes him an incredible pickleball player, but more importantly—an amazing person to be around. Look for Drew Holder the next time you’re at a major pickleball tournament and be sure to take the time to meet him. He is a genuinely great guy, and you will love getting to know him…on his way to becoming a pickleball professional.