Guest column: Senior games offer outlet for aging athletes
In December of this year I celebrated my 60th birthday. My husband took me to Las Vegas for the big event. We did not go to gamble or party; we went to play pickleball at the Plaza!
My journey as an athlete started when I was four. My dad ran the local bowling alley and I learned to bowl. I was passionate about it. I practiced every day after school and on weekends. I got pretty good and bowled competitively in high school and in college. In fact, my goal was to have a career bowling on the women’s pro tour. But alas, I decided to get married and become a mom. My passion for bowling did not end and I continued to bowl for fun for many years.
When I was 54 I learned that I had a benign brain tumor that had to be removed. The surgery was a success but left me with very little hearing in my left ear and only one balanced nerve. It also left me with two years of headaches and high blood pressure. I spent the next two years taking medications that did not work and packed 25 pounds onto my 5’ 2” frame. This was not how I wanted to spend my senior years. Life as I had known it had changed and I did not like it. I was really at my wits end when I discovered acupuncture and I got my life back. However, I did not get back the sport of bowling. It was just too painful for my head and neck.
I had always been active and competitive, so what was I supposed to do now? I tried running, which I could do but not competitively. I walked the A2A Half Marathon in 2019 and my feet are still not happy with me. I needed to find something I could do to be active, stay healthy and have some fun.
In June of 2019, my husband and I discovered pickleball. We had friends that kept telling us we needed to come play pickleball at our local YMCA. We finally bit the bullet and went to check it out. Instead of just watching, we were encouraged to get on the court and play. This was a new sport for me, and I immediately wondered if I could do it with one balanced nerve. I finally just turned my mind off and onto the court we went. It was absolutely amazing, and we were hooked.
My husband and I play four or five times a week in our community with a great group of people at different skill levels and ages. It is great to be able to show the 25 to 40 year-olds that people over 60 can be active and highly competitive. In fact, my husband and I win more games against these young whipper snappers than we lose.
Pickleball has given my husband and me a way to stay active, be competitive, meet new people, and do something we love together now and for many years to come. Never let your age deter you from trying something new. You might surprise yourself.