In 1984 PROLITE Sports was born and an industry was turned upside down.
And so began the production of the very first composite pickleball paddle. The paddle was the first of its kind – an innovation that revolutionized the sport of pickleball and the industry. While our original company name has changed from the ULTRA-LITE Paddle Co. to PROLITE Sports, the steadfast commitment to building innovative products made from the finest materials around has remained the same.
PROLITE is a family owned business, led by President and CEO, Neil Friedenberg – himself a 5.0 player. Pickleball paddles and other products are manufactured along the scenic shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A strong dedication to the sport and a solid Midwestern work ethic were founding principles that continue to drive our growth forward.
At PROLITE, our goals are clear; produce high performance paddles geared for a variety of player types, made from the most advanced, highly durable structural components available, supported by stellar customer service, and backed with a solid warranty. PROLITE never backs down from being different. In fact, we embrace it. The “Be a leader, not a follower” mentality is embedded in every ounce of our identity and it shows in the distinct feel and look of our PROLITE line of products starting with pickleball paddles.
As true ambassadors of the sport we love most, PROLITE gives back to its community in a number of ways. We teach the sport at all levels including numerous free clinics, are proud sponsors of many grassroots clubs across the United States, back dozens of smaller regional and state tournaments, help grow the sport internationally, and donate gear to schools, veterans programs, and worthy causes such as Alzheimer’s research and breast cancer awareness.
The First Time I Played Pickleball
The first time I ever played pickleball was in the late 1980’s at the Weyerhaeuser fitness center in Federal Way, Washington. They had installed one pickleball court adjacent to a racquetball court. My father, Mark Friedenberg, was a computer analyst there and would often play during his lunch hour. Shortly after, he introduced me to this fairly new sport.
I was an avid tennis player and followed my dad to racquetball tournaments so I picked up the game quickly. I remember the variety of paddles on the wall rack above the courts. Most were wooden, but I was drawn to the few made that were clearly made of a different material. Each of them had a large ball and lightning bolt in the sweet spot. Around the logo it read, “The Original Composite Paddle.” It played so much better than all of the wood paddles and felt great in my hands.
My father taught me the rules of pickleball, the boundaries, and the strategies. What did I learn? At the time…not much, only that I really wanted to beat my dad. Looking back at it now…I learned patience. I learned shot selection. I learned never to underestimate my opponent. Most importantly, I learned how this sport can bring enjoyment to players in the purest form. That this game can bridge the gap between all generations creating a positive, social, active atmosphere. If there was ever a lifelong sport to be enjoyed by everyone, pickleball is it. I am proud to be involved in such a great sport.
Neil Friedenberg, President and Owner
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