Mo Armstrong Pickleball Pioneer
Award Winner 2009
Mo Armstrong (left)
Maureen ‘Mo’ Armstrong first encountered pickleball while living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma in 1992. She was so smitten by the sport that when she moved to Arkansas in 1993 she started a group of seniors playing the sport in Springdale, Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas had felt the first of Mo’s strong urge to promote the sport.
San Antonio, Texas hosted the national Senior Olympics in 1995 and although Mo did not
actually participate; she there went with the sole purpose of promoting pickleball. She brought brochures and information and talked to anyone who would listen to her. After the San Antonio games she sent packages of information to 48 states with information about pickleball encouraging them to include it in their future Senior Games.
In March 1996, she started a group of seniors playing in Rogers, Arkansas and started competing in the Senior Olympic Games while promoting pickleball. She also acquired a sponsor for her Springdale group, Pratt and Whitney, and they furnished shorts and t-shirts with logos on the back of the shirts which read “Mo’s Mob”, a declaration of her dedication to the sport after only four short years.
The year 1997 was a breakout year for Mo’s quest to include pickleball in the Senior Games. Oklahoma became the first state to have pickleball in the Senior Olympics and the games were in Tulsa. Mo’s Mob from Arkansas sent twelve participants and won eight medals that year. She also had convinced a group of badminton players from Lafayette, Louisiana that they really needed to see this new sport when they came to the Tulsa games and they would fall in love with it. They did and pickleball moved to the Acadiana District Senior games in Louisiana in 1999 and the Louisiana State games in Baton Rouge in 2003. Mo did pickleball demonstrations in Jackson, Mississippi which led to pickleball’s addition to the Mississippi State games in 1999.
Mo moved back to Victoria, Texas in 1998 after being gone for 25 years. She quickly got permission from the First United Methodist Church to play pickleball in the their gym and in July of this year they will have been there for eleven years playing three times a week.
Pickleball demonstrations by Mo in 1999 led to addition of pickleball in the Houston Regional games in 1999 and to the Texas State games in Temple, Texas in the year 2000.
Mo almost singlehandedly ran the pickleball tournaments in the San Antonio Senior Games from 1999 until 2008. She also started a group of players in Lewisville, Texas in 2005 which still thrives to this day and has branched out to include several other locations in the Dallas area. Mo is the one recognizable name in Texas that is synonymous with pickleball.
Mo is a true pioneer in the Mid-South Region and has unselfishly spent her time and energies in helping the sport grow for a decade and a half. In conclusion I believe we all share Mo’s mantra about the sport: “It’s so addictive it’s worse than drugs or alcohol, there is no rehab center you just have to keep playing”.
Thank you Mo for helping so many of us find and grow the sport of pickleball.
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