Rediscovering the joy of pickleball with friends at Y

  • By Bruce Overstreet
  • Friday, January 31, 2014 10:59am
  • Life

It was a Sunday in January. The YMCA of Everett was busy. It didn’t used to be busy on Sundays back in the 1980s when I was on the Y staff, because the Y wasn’t even open on Sundays back then. But times have changed and the Y needs to keep pace with places like 24-Hour Fitness. So, on Sunday, at about the same time that the Mars Hill Church service on Rockefeller Avenue was ending, I was entering the Y.

I was the guest of my neighbor, Mike Fulcher, and we were meeting some other guys who are also in their 50s to play a little pickleball in the old 1960s gym. For some of you in your 50s, the mention of that gym may bring a flood of memories about YMCA youth activity sessions when bombardment was a common game. Lord, how I used to love the whizzing of those balls when I was a kid.

Now, I am one of those “old geezers” who is helping to pull the net tight for an afternoon of pickleball. This net doesn’t get as much use as it did in the 1980s and 90s when Mike and his long-time pickleball partner, Tom Hulten, used to dominate the local scene. And that is part of Mike’s plan: to get the game of pickleball re-introduced into the Everett Y community. To get the Y community energized about this fast-paced, easy-to-learn-and-master game.

On this day, Mike, Tom, and I, along with Steve Skorney, who is a new player to the game of pickleball, played for nearly two hours. We played more pickleball than I did in four weeks at the City of Edmonds Parks and Recreation Pickleball League.

Two things stood out that day. It was right down the street from my house, not thirty minutes away in Edmonds. And I was loving the action!

In fact, I had so much fun, I just may have to become a member of the Y after being away for decades. With a group of guys like this, activities close to home become possible. And if I really consider the Y’s 2014 Annual Campaign’s message that “the Y is so much more than a gym; it’s a cause,” I can see where what the four of us were doing this past Sunday as an example of that.

Here we were, four guys in our 50s, staying active by doing something that we couldn’t do by ourselves. What better environment than this to get our blood pumping for two hours? What better environment to learn some new sport like Steve Skorney, 59, was learning than in a non-threatening setting with three friends?

Until a couple of years ago, Mike and Tom had been regulars in the pickleball scene, both in Everett and down in the Edmonds league, securing a win-streak that spanned years. But, as often happens, they had gotten away from playing the game regularly. Things come up, routines change, passion wanes. And pretty soon pickleball isn’t played weekly.

But, if there is interest, it can be revived. For Tom, it had been well over a year since he had last picked up his paddle. Mike and I played a little pickleball in our quiet dead-end street this summer in my preparation for going down to the City of Edmonds league. But that isn’t much action during the last couple of years for two guys who used to play a couple times a week.

Now, Mike had given me a guest pass to join him in the hopes of re-establishing this sport at the Y. I’m game.

And, as quickly as Steve Skorney picked up the nuances of the sport, something tells me he will be back next Sunday for a quick game before the Super Bowl. Steve is one of those guys who is willing to try anything. He shared with me that handball is another one of his new activities.

Handball. Hmmmm. I wonder if I should add that to my list of 50 activities to do as a 50-plus-year-old. Of course, then I would really need to become a member of the Y. But it would be for a good cause.

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