Girl Bosses

Girl Bosses

In honor of International Women's Day, the ladies of the APP speak out about what it's like to be leading the way in their fields

APP
|
March 8, 2024
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There are many strong, intelligent, courageous women who make up the APP. We asked each of them what it means to them to be a woman in leadership at the APP paving the way for younger generations to follow, and to talk about a personal or historical female that has inspired or motivated them to chase their dreams. This is who they are and what they said.

Dee Davison, Director of Recreational Play: I’m honored to bring 30-plus years of small business entrepreneurship and 12 years of pickleball management to the APP Tour as the director of recreational play.  Many initiatives will be released over the next 12 months for players of all age divisions and skill levels.  Since 2021, I’ve worked with the Next Gen initiative to develop players and future leaders who will continue to impact the pickleball world for years to come.  These players have the opportunity to play the pro circuit, be a pickleball influencer, manage a collegiate team, mentor players or pursue a career in pickleball.  The ability to share information and mentor future leaders, who will move this sport forward is rewarding.  Knowing I’ve played a part in moving the game to an organized sport in providing a solid foundation for future generations is a legacy footprint to be proud of.

I was privileged to be shaped by many women and learn something from each.  My younger sister with cerebral palsy supported her siblings and all players from the stands and I watched her triumph through life with a smile on her face and blessings in her heart for each new day.  My mother taught us independence, organization skills, critical thinking skills and supported us through every adventure.  My aunts and grandmothers showed us how to cook, make noodles, daily chores on the farm and provide a BIG hug with each arrival and departure.  Girlfriends have helped me tackle the greatest lows and celebrate the highs while allowing me the opportunity to spread my wings and try new adventures.

When someone paves the way for you to be successful, we owe it to the next generation to provide them with the keys to success through mentorship, help them navigate the world of opportunity through the questions we will ask, so they can make informed decisions to accomplish their dreams.  Each one of us has a road map to fulfil dreams, I’m so lucky to have so many AMAZING women influence my life!

Director of Recreational Play Dee Davison

Bobbi Oshiro, APP Pro: It means opening up more opportunities for women to succeed both on and off the court. We’ve seen many strong, passionate figures in the sports world who have paved the way for us to have what we have right now. We want to continue supporting women in sports so they build the passion, discipline, and work ethic needed to take pickleball to the next level and be that role model for the next generation following.

Mom. I may not have seen it in the past - but I see it now as an adult of how much she sacrificed for me to do what I do. She’s pushed me in the best possible way to make me the greatest version of myself.

APP Pro Bobbi Oshiro

Melissa McCurley, Executive Vice President of Competition: There is no greater privilege than the privilege of empowering others, providing a safe environment to take risks, encouraging growth, encouraging vulnerability, providing guidance, learning from each other and sharing knowledge to help others succeed.

I have a personal friend that has helped me see things I couldn’t always see, or showed me a way when I couldn’t see a way and has always been there to remind me that this life isn’t about my plan, but God’s plan….be still, listen, serve from your heart, do not fear, do things for the right reason and stay in faith even when it’s hard are all things that (when practiced) will help you find your purpose, live inspired and help you achieve more than you could’ve ever dreamed possible.

Executive Vice President of Competition Melissa McCurley

Jenna Hessert, APP Pro: Women supporting other women, especially in sports, is extremely important to me. I love that I have the opportunity to lead by example through sportsmanship, showing younger girls that we can encourage one another while also being tough competitors.

My mom - she was in the 5th class of women to attend the United States Air Force Academy. She played D1 tennis all four years and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She is an incredible leader and athlete, and has taught me to always give my best, fight for what’s right, and to never be afraid of failure.

APP Pro Jenna Hessert

Marsha Freso, Referee: In my modest position within the APP leadership, I aspire to instill confidence in younger women. I firmly believe that one can remain actively engaged and contribute significantly, even in the later stages of life. It's about paving the way for those who come after us. As we navigate our own paths and strive for excellence, we must remain open to the inspiration that surrounds us daily.

Reflecting on the diverse and inspirational women who have influenced my journey, I am filled with gratitude. From various backgrounds and age groups, these women have motivated me to pursue my passions fearlessly. My mother taught me to find inspiration in everyone, emphasizing the importance of attentive listening, mindful observation, and genuine connections. Recently, I came across the remarkable story of Bethann Hardison, a trailblazer in the fashion industry. Her relentless efforts to redefine beauty standards and champion diversity serve as a constant reminder that unjust barriers are meant to be challenged.

Referee Marsha Freso

Judit Castillo, APP Pro: We all try to find a purpose in life. For me, one of my purposes is to impact positively the lives of the younger generations, and in this case, women. Doing so through sports is even more special because it creates a unique bond between all of us. For some, sports are a way to make a living, but it is a way to a better future for all.

Two women have and thankfully still inspire me to keep going after my dreams: my mom, Pilar, and my grandma, Pura. My grandma lost her husband when my dad was two and raised two kids on her own in a hectic Spain. She always tells me to be “brave,” but she is the true reflection of what being brave is. My mom is the most intelligent person I have ever met, always taking care of the family, having a full-time job, and having time for all of us. She has taught me that nothing is impossible if you work hard for it. These two women mean everything to me, and I would not be who I am without them. They deserve the world.

APP Pro Judit Castillo

Jenny Klitch, Senior Vice President of Pro Player Relations and Competition: I’m lucky to be a member of the APP team charged with responsibly guiding the development of the emerging sport of pickleball.  I feel a great responsibility to give to future generations' ever-increasing opportunities to experience sports in a way that deepens social connections, builds self-esteem, supports female leadership development, and grounds the foundation of the sport in gender equity.

I was fortunate to compete alongside Billie Jean King on the WTA Tennis Tour.  I watched Billie inspire, educate, and sacrifice for future generations of female athletes.  She made sure that any female tennis player, if good enough, would have a place to compete, be recognized for her accomplishments, and earn a living wage.  She remains a pioneer for women’s rights and social justice.  Everything good in my life has been the direct result of roads paved by Billie Jean King.  

Senior Vice President of Pro Player Relations and Competition

Simone Jardim, APP Pro: It makes me proud and honored to be in such position because it means my hard work has paid off.

My mother for sure. From a young age I was taught to be my own self and pursue my dreams. Most importantly, she showed me by example that a woman can have a career and be a great mother.

APP Pro Simone Jardim

Alix Truong, APP Pro: Being a female in leadership on the APP Tour entails being a trailblazer and a role model for generations to come. It requires embodying qualities such as excellence, passion, dedication, and more, both on and off the court. By challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers, we continuously demonstrate that there are no limits in sports, especially in pickleball. My goal is to pave the way for younger players, encouraging them to invest in themselves, seize opportunities, and strive for improvement every day.

A woman who has inspired me throughout my journey over the past year and remains a beacon of growth is Jewell Loyd. Continually dazzling the WNBA world with her athletic prowess, she has set league records, earned the All-Star MVP title, become an Olympian and WNBA title holder. Beyond her remarkable athleticism, Jewell values her experiences, relationships, and community.What resonates with me the most is her unwavering display of drive, hard work, and passion in every performance and conversation we have shared.

Someone once said: "Here's to strong women - may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them." 

Happy International Women's Day!

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