Pickleball Points – Local pickleballers bring home medals from Senior Olympics


The Delaware Senior Olympics in pickleball, played indoors at the Kent County Parks & Recreation Center near Dover, concluded last weekend. My compliments to Sue Brooker and her army of volunteers — all members of our Delaware pickleball community — for hosting this year’s championship as Delaware’s first fully-sanctioned United States Pickleball Association tournament. It’s always a lot of work behind the scenes — especially for a sanctioned event — but the participants do appreciate your efforts.

I reported last week how well Delaware players do when playing in other regions, and players from those other areas, like privateers from days of old, come to Delaware and try to reclaim their precious medals.

Although the quality of play at the Delaware Olympics has dramatically escalated the last few years, our players — many previously mentioned last week — held off those marauders and conducted themselves well. I was very proud of our entire community, and it is obvious their hard work at improving has paid off. (Results for Delaware players are below.) Amongst the results were some particularly brilliant performances.

This weekend, there will be another tournament at Ocean City Recreation & Parks’ Northside Park Indoor Center, and many of these winners will also be participating there. The public is welcome to attend, and there is no admission. Play is on Saturday and Sunday.

Women’s Singles — Delaware winners

50-59 — Rhonda Johnson, gold; Tami Viola, silver

60–64 — Robin Murray, gold; Susan Neudeck, silver

65-69 — Sue Brooker, gold

70-74 — Boe Harris, gold

75-79 — Georgia Billger

Men’s Singles — Delaware winners

55-59 — Toby Boyd, gold; Gregory Rash, silver

60-64 — Rick Bell, gold; Bruce Smart, silver

70-74 — Al Haley, gold; Charles Hollis, silver

75- 79 — Maurice Heckscher, gold; Larry Allen, silver; Walt Pluznick, bronze

80-84 — Charles Melson, silver

Women’s Doubles — Delaware winners

55-59 — Diane Milam & Pearl Morris, gold; Dian Rash & Irma Hernandez, silver; Rhonda Johnson & Tubbie Tubbs, bronze

60-64 — Ann Reed & Judy Redard, gold; Robin Murray & Kathy Casey, silver; Sharon Ward & Nancy Bradshaw, bronze.

65-69 — Maggie Booth & Sue Poteet, gold; Susan Brooker & Patty Woodruff, silver; Cynthia Jenkins & Marcia Grim, bronze.

70-74 — Anne Pikolas & Boe Harris, gold

Men’s Doubles — Delaware Winners

55- 59 — Rick Bell & Bob O’Malley (of Maryland), gold

60-64 -Bob Gaudreau & Steve Donohue, gold; Cole Wash & Joel Steele, silver; Chic Stearrett & Bruce Smart, bronze

65-69 — Mike Belisle & Dana Aultman, gold; Randy Redard & John Schroeder, silver

70-74 — Don Bates & Ken Haley, gold; Joe Beran & Tim LaPorte, silver; Harold Holeman & Bruce McKenzie — bronze

75-79 — Artie Holgerson & Larry Allen, gold

80-84 — Charlie Melson & Dom DiCostanzo, gold

Mixed Doubles — Delaware winners

50-54 — Lynne Coburn (of Maryland) & Rick Bell, gold — overall

50-54 — Pam Boyd & Tony Boyd, gold; Becky Moody & Toby Moody, silver;

55- 59 — Pearl Morris & Bob O’Malley, gold — overall

55 -59 — Dina Milam & Bob Gaudreau, gold; Lynn Casey & Charlie Biddle, silver; Kim Gruber & Joe Steel, bronze

60-64 — Robin Murray & Cole Walsh, gold; Kathy Casey & Bruce Smart, silver; Nancy Haefeli & Kevin Lawrence, bronze

65-69 — Judy Redard & Randy Redard, gold; Dianne Bane & Tim Bane, silver; Evelyn Sander & Stephen Kemmerle, bronze

70-74 — Boe Harris & Scott Jenkins, gold; Anne Pikolas & Don Bates, silver; Jean Farris & Joe Beran, bronze

75-79 — Pat Kearrns & Larry Allen, gold; Madeline Truitt & Harold Holeman, silver

80 -84 — Sylvia Bell & Charlie Melson, gold; Marion Lisehora & Tony Lingenfelter, silver

The Delaware Community of Pickleball & the Fitness Protection Program

I grew up in a very small town with parents who were very civic-minded, and I experienced the power of “community” at its very best. After playing the game of “life” for more than five decades, I became involved here in Delaware pickleball, and once again I experienced a real community.

In my first community — too young to realize it, of course — they were trying to prepare me for life and to be a responsible and productive citizen. Now, this pickleball community, in my retirement years, has once again a well-meaning purpose.

We come from different locations, so it provides an interesting social component because of our varying backgrounds, and this fun game called pickleball, filled with laughter, becomes the glue that binds us together.

Besides the social aspect, pickleball is very good exercise. When PBS interviewed several of us two years ago, we lined up pickleballers the length of the court to be interviewed. Here is a random selection of a few of their comments:

• “Lost 80 pounds, saved my wife, cut my meds in half, I could walk again, threw away the cane, eliminated my blood-pressure meds.”

• When one of the 40-something interviewers said they could not play pickleball because their knees hurt, then-85-year-old Marion Lisehora said, “Suck it up — we all hurt, but this is what keeps us going.”

When we play, we laugh a lot, and I think, besides the exercise, this laughter has a lot to do with those outstanding health results. I call it the Pickleball Fitness Protection Program.

I recently was prompted to write this particular article about “community” when I witnessed a dozen extremely talented individuals organize the Coastal Community Pickleball League (CCPL). Their actions have prompted others to volunteer to help, and there are now 14 communities below the Indian River in the Coastal Community Pickleball League.

My compliments to all the captains who have organized such an outstanding program. Their fall schedule is posted at pickleballcoast.com.

I was recently honored by this Coastal Community Pickleball League at a social gathering of pickleballers when 135 of us attended the last Delmarva Shorebirds baseball game of the 2018 season, and they asked me to throw out the game’s first pitch.

Knowing I would never live down a pitch that bounced and dribbled along to the catcher, I went down into the bullpen before the game and asked the bullpen coach if I could throw a few balls. He showed me the distance by throwing a strong pitch into a target. I complimented his thrown, and he proceeded to tell me he was 65 and worked out in the gym a lot.

Then I threw a pretty good practice pitch, if I say so myself, for having not thrown a baseball for more than almost 65 years. He complimented me and said I was ready for the first pitch, and asked my age. I laughingly told him I was 75, and I played pickleball.

And the truth is pickleball does keep us fit, and aware of our diets and the damage done by excess weight. I suppose I should qualify my statement: as fit as we can reasonably expect given that we are all afflicted with this devastating disease called “age.” And as we play, we have each other’s back with gentle ribbing about weight, or drawing attention to hydration.

Here is one example that we don’t just think about our own fitness: Perhaps “Give a Bug a Hug” might have been a better name, but the Seagrass Plantation pickleballers started a “Save the Monarch Butterflies” initiative.

Beginning two summers ago with the planting of milkweed (the only food that monarch caterpillars will eat), team members planted milkweed throughout the community. By the time the final generation of monarchs heads to Mexico this October, Seagrass will have raised and released more than 600 butterflies.

Well done, Mike and Maryanne Siegert, Art and Kay Fitch, Diane Frey, Jim Hedgebeth, Betty Endlich, Diane Bloom, Jay Goldscher, and new team members Bruce and Gerry Arendall.

That night at the baseball game, one of the pickleballers came to me in the stands and gave me a very nice compliment. He thanked me for promoting and encouraging pickleball for “aging retired athletes.”

I appreciated his sentiments, but pickleball is bigger because we also have retired housewives participating who never threw or hit a ball, and they are getting as much out of pickleball as the rest of us.

So, thank you, Pickleball Community, for honoring me with the first pitch and your compliments, and I want you to know I didn’t accept it for me, but for us — our Delaware pickleball community, of which I am very proud.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.

By Vaughn Baker

Special to the Coastal Point