(PUEBLO WEST, Colo.) — Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America and one family in Pueblo West is finding a way to share their passion for the sport with the community they love with woman-owned LIX Pickleball.
Ali Grace grew up in Pueblo West and met her husband Dylan in first grade. In high school, they both played tennis and were only exposed to pickleball through gym class. Fast forward a handful of years and they were reintroduced to the sport while on a family vacation around 2016-2017.
The Graces found that they enjoyed playing pickleball so much that they spent much of their vacation outside, on the court, in the sun. This translated into a family activity back home and they continued playing even months later.
“I mean, if you’ve never been around it, it’s very inclusive to everybody. It’s not just people that have played tennis before or people that have, you know, young people, old people, people that don’t even really do any type of sports play pickleball. It’s unbelievable the different backgrounds that you get when you’re on a one single Pickleball court,” Dylan said.
Dylan made the decision to travel and play in tournaments and won some money in a professional tournament becoming a paid professional athlete. As time went by, Dylan began looking for sponsorship opportunities that connected the Graces with a gentleman from outside the U.S. That partnership didn’t lead to anything but changed the couple’s trajectory.
They began making paddles for pickleball which was the birth of the business. The Graces wanted to attract a younger crowd, primarily the friends of their 14-year-old son. While at a sporting goods store one day they overheard a woman express her desire for a paddle based on its looks over other features and made it their mission to have a look that “was on point.”
Ali said, “So we needed to make sure our look was on point, our colors are on point, and we’ve been having a lot of feedback from the younger crowd on colors and designs and things like that to see what they’re interested in instead of more of the older generation… leaning towards the more neutral colors or the safer colors. That’s where we were a little bit different because we want to stand out.”
The name of her brand stems from the Grace’s love for their son. LIX isn’t Roman numerals but a part of the couple’s son’s name.
“Our son’s name is Calix. We took the last three letters, Lix, and, you know… he’s probably our favorite person in the world, so we’re like, Why? Why not? I thought it was pretty cool and we rolled with it,” Ali said.
The company became official in November of 2022 and opened online in December. The company is currently strictly online at LIXPickleball.com and features an array of apparel and will soon have pickleball paddles. Beginning in March 2023 the site will feature a USA Pickleball approved paddle.
I couldn’t do it… without God, my family, and this community, it would be nothing. They’re huge supporters and even if it’s my girlfriend’s nine-year-old daughter who’s like trying to help me learn social media… or the community supporting the tournaments… the willingness of their hearts, just because they enjoy it as well, they’re just like, ‘Let’s get you going in the right direction’ and couldn’t do it without that support.Ali Grace, Owner of LIX Pickleball
Ali and Dylan are on the courts as often as possible either at Mineral Palace Park in Pueblo or at Springs Pickleball in Colorado Springs.
Ali said, “We could have just made a bunch of paddles and threw them on a website. But that’s not what we were really about. We wanted to make sure they were good quality. That’s more important to us than anything, really.”
LIX Pickleball has also worked with some of the local schools in the Pueblo area to increase accessibility to and have fun with the sport. Before Christmas, some of the schools held a tournament and the brand donated a paddle as a prize. The Grace family has nothing but gratitude and love for their community.