Pickleball helps keep senior citizens active, physically and socially

Published 6:25 pm Friday, August 31, 2018

Washington’s pickleball popular program is expanding.

Senior citizens especially like the program, part of the city’s recreational offerings by the Parks and Recreation Department. “It is very popular. A lot of people come in requesting for more time. If they ask what it is and we tell them, they kind of get stuck on it,” said Zoe Taylor, special populations supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department. “They the go see what it’s all about and they’re hooked from there.”

What is pickleball?

Pickleball contains elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton and is played on a much smaller court. The net is a modified tennis net and the paddle is solid and can be compared to an enlarged ping-pong paddle. The ball is perforated and is similar to a Whiffle ball. The game can be played as singles or doubles. At the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center the game is played indoors. Equipment and instruction are provided.

Taylor said every Thursday and Friday mornings 11 to 15 people show up at the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center on East Seventh Street to play pickleball from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Those sessions are for people 50 or older. Starting next week, pickleball will be offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Those sessions are open to anyone 18 or older. There is no charge to play pickleball.

Advantages of pickleball.

Pickleball is a game that can be played and enjoyed by anyone of any skill level. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn. The game can also develop in a quick, fast paced game for more experienced players who desire a more competitive game. The game has social aspects and offers seniors the ability to stay active.

Phoebe Wahab, a former ranger at Goose Creek State Park and a part-time worker at the Bath Community Library, is an avid pickleball player and fan. “The game can be a very dynamic game that is a great deal of fun to play while also getting a aerobic workout. It can also be played at a much slower pace. At all levels of play the game has great social benefits as all of the players I have met are all genuinely nice to each other,” she wrote in an email touting the game and its upcoming expansion at the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center.

Betty Hamilton, 91, of Washington, has been playing pickleball for four and a half years. “This is my exercise,” she said while taking a short break to change partners for a new game Friday morning.

PICKLEBALL VETERAN: Betty Hamilton, 91, is considered the queen bee of the senior citizens who play the game on Thursday and Friday mornings at the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center. (Mike Voss/Daily News)

“The new people I meet. That’s one of the best things about playing pickleball,” she said.

Other pickleball players refer to Hamilton as “the queen bee” of their group.

Recently at a ceremonial presentation of $50,000 to the city to help pay for a new gym floor at the recreation center, state Sen. Bill Cook said, “I’ve been aware of the needs of this Bobby Andrews Recreation Center for some time. It first came to my attention when I went over there to play pickleball. Folks were concerned about the flooring,” Cook said. “I was able to talk to some folks in Raleigh. I’m on the budget committee, so I knew some folks who were in control of some funds. So, I talked it up and got enough support, and we were able to get a chunk of money for the facility.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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