A gentleman from Ely, Minnesota, sharing his thoughts on a purchase from us, wrote, “It works well for me… an 82 year old beginner.”
The phrase “82 year old beginner” ran through my head all day, and I began to wonder about the man behind those words. My curiosity piqued, I decided to delve further and explore the unique perspective of an octogenarian just starting out at the game.
Dwight McConnell, the writer of that inspiring quote, was happy to share his insights with me. “Discovery is life and life is discovery,” he stated, eloquently expressing his belief that you are never too old to try new activities.
McConnell hadn’t heard of pickleball until he was approached by a neighbor in early 2012, who invited him to join their local club. After she explained the game, he was skeptical that a man of his age and physical condition would be able to play such a vigorous sport. McConnell had recently suffered a broken hip and wrist and had been diagnosed with type II diabetes, giving him additional reasons to take pause.
After some introspection, McConnell decided to give it a shot. That following Tuesday, he arrived at the club’s designated pickleball court: A gymnasium on the third floor of the town’s public library. He was greeted by a group of middle-aged folks, each sporting athletic apparel and brandishing pickleball paddles.
Fascinated with the pickleball equipment and the players, McConnell jumped into his first game. The newcomer learned quickly how to position himself within the court and manage movements to effectively navigate and return the ball. By the end of the game he was hooked. “Pickleball was such a great discovery,” he said, with passion in his voice. “The physical activity, the sense of community… I can’t say enough good things about it.”
Now, months later, McConnell has a few “bragging rights.” Pickleball has helped him maintain a twenty pound weight loss and therefore is no longer required to take medication to control his diabetes. He’s fit, feeling fabulous and has made many lifelong friends.