Introduction

About Me

At the conclusion of this semester, I will have completed my freshman year at the University of Maryland. My major is Operations Management and Business Analytics, but largely as a result of this class, I will be switching my major to Materials Science and Engineering. I’ll explain more of my reasons and the influence this class had on my decision later on. I’m very happy with my first year at UMD. I’ve learned a lot already and met many awesome people.

I am from Maryland originally and am only forty minutes or so away from home, which is nice, as I get to see my family semi-regularly. I am one of seven kids – I am right in the middle. I was homeschooled throughout high school. So family is pretty important to me.

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The UMD Club Tennis Team

As for hobbies, I love being active. I play any sport for fun, go to the gym regularly, hike as much as I can, and will try just about any new physical pursuit. Here at UMD, I am on the Club Tennis Team and I play racquetball and table-tennis with my friends for additional recreation. At the same time, I also like to read in my downtime. From fiction and mystery to biographies and politics, I like almost everything.

I’m a big food lover and will try any new food. My favorites are Thai, Sushi, and Mexican. I also consider myself a bubble tea connoisseur. As I write this, I am actually drinking my first attempt at homemade bubble tea! Traveling is also a favorite thing for me to do; interacting with other cultures and seeing new things is an incredible experience every time. And the fun never ends, because there are always new places to visit.

As of now, the most defining thing about me is pickleball. Most people don’t know what pickleball is right now, but it is actually the fastest growing sport in America. It is typically described as a combination of tennis and table-tennis.

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Men’s doubles pickleball

I play and teach pickleball professionally. While I’m not in school, I travel around the country to compete in tournaments and teach in clinics. Even during the school year, I travel a lot over long weekends. This semester I was traveling so much for pickleball that I was on campus for only two weekends. I went to Florida four times; Austin, Texas; St. George, Utah; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Palm Springs, California. So, you can probably tell I love pickleball and traveling!

Because of pickleball, I get to visit many places I otherwise wouldn’t be able to, which is one of my favorite aspects of it. Another great part is the people; there are so many unique people that I wouldn’t have gotten to meet if it wasn’t for pickleball.

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Meeting Andy Roddick in Austin, Texas

A combination of this class and pickleball have been the primary influencing factors in my switch in major to Materials Science and Engineering. My goal is to build my own pickleball company and produce professional paddles. I believe I can create higher quality and more innovative products than any other company. The paddles can be made with a large variety of materials and surfaces, both of which affect the paddle’s playability in tandem with its shape and weight distribution. This business idea is why I think Materials Science and Engineering will be a perfect major to propel me into a start-up company. Pickleball is such a fast-growing sport that it is ripe for start-up ideas, new businesses, and innovations. I’m very optimistic about my success. I had already wanted to eventually start my own business, but I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do, and I wanted to acquire experience first. This class has shown me that the best way to be innovative is to start as soon as possible and to not be afraid of failing; failure is a learning experience, and I will not let it stop me from continuing to strive.

My experiences with creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship have been great thus far, but they really can be boundless; therefore, I am always looking for new ways to improve upon each of them. My dad owns his own business and is the most creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial person I know. If I ever have any new idea, I always run it by him first. It’s amazing to just be around him and talk to him. Personally, I co-founded a company called SickTrx, which is essentially a team of professional pickleball players who instruct as a group in an educational but also very fun way. We are also producing lines of apparel, among a few other things. Our goal is to eventually become a term in everyday conversation of the pickleball world, which I think we are doing a respectable job of so far!

I also love to teach pickleball. It’s amazing to watch the lightbulb turn on and see real improvement in students. From a business/entrepreneurial perspective, it’s not just about being good at instructing so that clients want to return; it’s also about putting myself out there to attract clients and creating a personal connection with them.

Left: the SickTrx team. Right: students at a pickleball clinic in Las Vegas, NV

I perceive my biggest strengths to be communication, teamwork, and dedication to a goal. I love people, so communication and teamwork come easily to me. I think my dedication mainly is the result of the disciplined mindset I must have to maintain my skills as a professional athlete and juggle school at the same time. My greatest weakness is becoming too single-minded on my goals; I like to be an eclectic person, but sometimes I get lost in what I’m focusing on and forget to maintain other things I know are beneficial for me.

I don’t believe my current creativity is high, but I do believe I have a lot of creative potential. Among other things, this class has taught me that entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity are not just attributes you’re born with; they are skills that can be fostered. Having prompted this realization, this class has played an important part in my change in major and my ambition to start my own business right out of college. I just need to have an innovative mindset and trust that I can improve my creative and innovative skills as time goes on and I learn from my experiences. I know that as I progress with my business I will become more creative and innovative.

Overall, I’m very glad I took this course. It has greatly influenced me on what I want to do and how I think of my career. More than anything, I think the class has taught me that it’s not about hard knowledge that I can apply, it’s about approaching life with a different mindset.