This entrepreneurial Tustin teen gives back through his love of pickleball.
Like many boys his age, Myles McBride is into sports. The latest? Pickleball, which he was first introduced to about five years ago and started playing regularly last year when courts opened up near his Tustin home. The relatively new but growing sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, and can be played as doubles or singles.
“It’s really fun. It’s fast-paced, and it’s a great way to meet a bunch of people and to make friends,” said McBride, who is a freshman at Tustin Connect.
But McBride isn’t just playing pickleball. He’s bringing it into his peers’ lives in more ways than one. The 14-year-old, who has already won 11 tournament medals, including five gold, and is sponsored by pickleball company Nexxed, said there aren’t many players his age around. So, after chatting with his family, he decided to do something about it.
Having coached kids before, McBride prepared a presentation and pitched the idea for USA Junior Pickleball Academy (USAJPA.com) to Tustin Public Schools Foundation. With some help from his mom, McBride worked with administrators on the logistics and found himself on the court coaching about 30 students last summer. The academy continues this fall. It’s been a win-win for everyone involved. McBride’s mom, Ziggy, said district officials are happy to see children using the courts — kids have a new activity to explore and McBride gets to play with his peers.
But why stop there? McBride is also turning the sport into a business. Since there aren’t many young players, the options for age-appropriate equipment are somewhat limited too. The teen had a solution. He enlisted a designer and came up with a logo, which he pitched to Nexxed owner Shawn Walker along with an idea for a new paddle better suited for intermediate players his age. At the time, there wasn’t much competition on the market. Walker and his team were up for a business partnership.
“What he’s bringing to the table is like all his connections,” McBride said, adding that those include art designers, clothing designers as well as manufacturers in China.
“Our paddles are different because they, well, they’re kids’ paddles. The grip size is a little smaller, and it’s made for kids, so it’s specifically designed for them.”
Young players who got to test the prototype praised the smaller size, lighter weight and texture, which gave them more control, Mc Bride said. The young entrepreneur and his business partner started a new company, XPLR (xplrpb.com), to sell the paddles and possibly other sports gear in the future. XPLR, which stands for explore, is a name McBride’s 17-year-old sister, Maia, came up with.
“It’s really cool that he’s able to go out and do it, and I’m really excited for where it’s going to go, and I think there’s a lot of potential,” Maia said.
Entrepreneurship is nothing new for McBride. When he was 8 years old, he went door to door in his neighborhood selling bracelets he made and earned $124 in one afternoon.
“Ever since then, I’ve been doing like a lot of entrepreneurship,” he said, listing dog walking, lawn mowing and golf ball selling as examples — all while playing multiple sports and maintaining straight As. Having grown up in the family where the motto is “work hard, play hard,” both McBride and his sister have learned to balance all their school and fun activities.
When he was in eighth grade, McBride went to Legacy Magnet Academy, where the curriculum includes business-related topics. He’s now leaning on the knowledge for his pickleball venture.
“Myles is amazing,” Ziggy said. “Myles says he wants to do something, and we just try and give him the avenues and the opportunity to be able to do that and to run where he wants to go with it. We really just stay out of his way and give him the opportunities.”
By Magda Hernandez