Chad Flynn


Chad Flynn attributes one run with changing his life.
Hometown: Minneapolis
Current Residence: Edina, MN
Career highlights: Ranked #5 in Senior Pro Tour

As a longtime distance runner Chad routinely sweated his way around Minneapolis’ neighborhood lakes, but this time was different: He passed a competitive athlete—one with Olympic ambitions—who was having none of it.

The two exchanged more than leads that day.

Chad and Emmy Award-winning TV anchor Mary Lahammer dated, married and, 30 years later, are sending their daughter, Bayliss, off to college this fall on a soccer scholarship after becoming the youngest player signed to the #1 ranked pre-professional Aurora FC.

“I call pickleball our family sport, even though I’m the only one who plays, because of all their support,” Chad says.

“When Mary was in kindergarten, she knew she wanted to be a reporter and attacked that with the same determination she did with running to become great in her field. That’s Bayliss with soccer—training and drilling year after year to be her absolute best.

“I admired their drive but never experienced it myself, until pickleball.”

With gyms closed during the pandemic, outdoor pickleball courts offered one way to stay active. There, Chad met some great friends in their 60s and 70s who taught him the fundamentals. Younger players also started showing up, helping Chad to refine his skills. By the time the pandemic was declared over, Chad was ready for tournament play.

He started winning, then winning big. He now ranks #3 worldwide in the professional senior singles division. In his first year as a pro player, Chad medaled seven times at professional tournaments and qualified for the U.S. Open—a feat he calls “a relatively big deal,” given most players get there through a lottery system. He also was drafted onto one of six senior professional teams in the new National Pickleball League.

“It brings me joy to compete at this high level. Where in previous things I was good, through pickleball I got to be great and discovered my passion.”