In the late 2000s, Darren Pritt joined the Athletic DNA team as an investor. Being a tennis player most of his life and believing in the benefits of sports for all levels, he figured it was a natural fit. Three years ago, Pritt began managing the company, and now as president is making strides in branding tennis for everyone.
Pritt grew up in nearby Newport Shores, and on nice days he’d ride his bike through Bellevue to the then Bellevue Athletic Club.
“I was coached by Bob Behrens, Mike Prospek and Lisa Moldrem growing up,” Pritt says. He played for Newport High School and competed in regional junior tournaments before heading east to Whitman College and continuing to play.
“I stopped after that for a while,” Pritt explains. “But in my late 30s I picked it up again and began coaching.” Pritt joined the Garfield High School coaching team in Seattle and started playing tennis again.
It was up to chance that his tennis community from high school days would set him up for success. Back in the swing of playing a couple of times each week, Pritt was introduced to former University of Idaho tennis player Dan Willman and Athletic DNA.
Athletic DNA was founded in Seattle in 2007 as a tennis-focused apparel company. Famous for their spin on youth apparel, Athletic DNA is worn by pro tennis players like former world number one Lleyton Hewitt and American favorite Brian Baker.
Even though big names wearing your apparel is appealing, Pritt argues that mid-level players should get just as much attention.
Pritt’s first move while leading the company as president was to completely change the marketing dynamic.
“We moved over to a bigger, broader market that goes back to junior programs,” Pritt says. “There are only 1,000 kids competing at the national level—well, there’s 10,000 kids competing at local levels, and then 40,000 recreation kids that are just being left out of other brands.”
Pritt explains that extremes rarely work when it comes to his business and life. He chooses to focus on everyday players who love the game, rather than market to the elite who are in the spotlight. “I didn’t really like that mental aspect of it,” Pritt says.
It’s a similar mind-set that guides Pritt in his day-to-day life: Everything in moderation with simplicity.
With a family of six, Pritt keeps a busy schedule, and he prefers to maintain a healthy lifestyle for himself and his family.
Everything in Moderation
Pritt's Tips to keeping life Simple and Healthy
- Get your kids involved in tennis. “Find programs that are equally challenging and fun, nothing purely recreational and nothing purely competitive. Find a tennis pro you like and incorporate private lessons to learn quickly, but engage in group lessons to create community.”
- Move around. “I try to get on the courts one to three times a week. I wish I could say three times a week, but with my schedule I haven’t been able to figure out how to accomplish that. One time a week is easy, two times isn’t too bad, but three is a challenge. I get busy, but I still try to get out here.”
- Activate all your senses, not just your muscles. “For me, tennis is great because it’s not only agility training and a skill, but you have to focus. You can’t be thinking about all the other things you’re stressed out about; you have to focus on the score, the strategy and what you’re doing in that moment.”
- Find time to do nothing. “Find five to 10 minutes each day just to do nothing,” Pritt says. “I’ll take a break a couple of times each day for three or four minutes and relax. Not watch TV, not listen to music, just try to sit and think about nothing.”
- Diet is individual. “I know I feel the best when I cook my own meals and simply eat meat, vegetables and rice. I’m trying not to consume too much processed food. We should know what’s in our food.”
- Focus on mindfulness. “When you’re less stressed out, and more mindful, you’ll naturally fall into an equilibrium. If you feel good, exercise and healthy habits become a natural part of your day.”
Athletic DNA will partner with the Bellevue Club for the first time this year to create a Player of the Month program. Each month, Bellevue Club coaches will nominate a junior player to be recognized. That player will receive free apparel from Athletic DNA and be honored in the tennis lounge.