By Andrew Gilman
Talk to Ken Herrmann for a few minutes and you can tell the guy has a lot of energy.
“More like two seconds,” says Lauren McLaughlin. “You start talking to him and you know he’s got lots of ideas. Lots.”
Energy leads to ideas and Herrmann’s idea was the APP Tour, which he founded and is now the CEO of. And as if coming up with a professional Pickleball tour, with stops in 14 cities all over the country and a total purse of a half-million dollars – from Oregon to Florida, including a Tournament of Champions stop in Utah – wasn’t a big enough challenge, Herrmann added another to go along with the tour.
“We’re doing Saturday college football, but for Pickleball,” Herrmann said.
That means a traveling studio show featuring McLaughlin, Kyle Selinko, Steve Kennedy and Dominc Catalano will be at each of the tour spots, starting March 18 in Hilton Head, S.C., at the kickoff event – the PPR Hilton Head Pickleball Open. The APP Tour Show will be available through Facebook at the APP Tour page (Facebook.com/theapptour), the Live with Lauren page on Facebook (Facebook.com/livewithlaurenmclaughlin) as well as a number of other Facebook group pages.
“This is going to help the tour so much,” said Kennedy, who is a former pro tennis player and has won Pickleball titles at every major tournament and will be able provide expert commentary from the perspective of a top player. “To bring personality and knowledge to every event and make it available is going to be great. People are jonesing for Pickleball. They want to be entertained.”
And there’s going to plenty of opportunity for that. The four hosts have already developed a great energy as they have been broadcasting all sorts of Pickleball news and features, upcoming events and promotions on the weekly show, “Live With Lauren.”
McLaughlin didn’t play a lot of racket sports growing up, despite her dad playing college tennis, and she admits to being kind of slow to Pickleball, at least at first. And although she’s not what she would call a “big” tournament player, McLaughlin said she was around the game enough and got to do some commentary. “I didn’t think much about it, and it seemed completely random, but we got some great feedback and I got connected back to Ken. From there, it went from not having Pickleball in my life to this. I’m definitely going to enjoy it.”
The fans of Pickleball will be able to enjoy the show, too. Not only will top matches be streamed, but the four will play host to lots of interviews, fun analysis and more.
“I made a decision to step back from the playing and be part of the broadcast team. “ said Catalano, who has been part of the tour’s advisory committee and has run and played in a number of pro tournaments. “I still will play some tournaments. I just wanted to be part of this. What better way to be involved than getting involved in some of the day-to-day commentary We all have such great camaraderie. We can feed off each other and will be able to do that from stop to stop on the tour.”
Each of the stops on the APP Tour, which is sanctioned by the USAPA, will have prize money for the pros and are opportunities for both pros and amateurs to earn points which qualifies players for the season-ending tournament in Punta Gorda, Fla. Other stops on the tour include Atlanta, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Bend, Ore., and more. No matter what region in the country you’re in, there’s going to be a tournament available.
And the studio show will be there, too.
“I want to create an experience for the in-home viewer,” Herrmann said. “Bringing the show on the road will definitely help.”