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Jan papi
2018-05-19 12:49:43

Pickleball gaining popularity with West Michigan seniors
PAW PAW, Mich (Newschannel 3) -- A budding sport is spreading like wildfire with seniors in one West Michigan community.
Newschannel 3's Jessica Wheeler visited Paw Paw to see what pickleball is all about and why retirees are taking the sport up in droves.
"If they can hit the ball over the net, they can play," said Gary Schanz, the Van Buren County pickleball ambassador.
These seniors are swinging their way to good health.
"I started for the exercise and to fill in some of my time now that I'm retired," said pickleball player, Jim Westcott.
Westcott and others believe they may have found a fountain of youth with a racket and net.
"That keeps you young," said player, Ruth Baker.
Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping pong and badminton. The sport was invented in the 1960's in Washington and has slowly spread across the county.
Here in Van Buren County, the 55 and older crowd cannot get enough.
Ruth baker started playing two years ago, looking to exercise more.
"I wanted to be active. I played tennis as a young, young person and so I thought I'll give it a try and I fell in love with it," said Baker.
At 77 years old, she is on the court at least twice a week.
"It's competition and I can be competitive at times," said Baker.
Gary Schanz organizes the Van Buren County league at Freshwater Community Church in Paw Paw three days a week. He says the sport is good for both the body and mind.
"It does an aerobic workout for them. It works their legs, it works their arms, eye and hand coordination," said Schanz.
Schnaz said pickleball lets you play at your own pace.
That was one of the draws for Westcott, who also started as a way to get fit.
"We do have all levels here," said Westcott.
The 72-year-old plays three days a week and said the players are more than just his competition.
"This is like family here. It's like going to a meal with all your friends and family and you look forward to coming and seeing how people are and how their family is and we cover a lot of things other than just pickleball," said Westcott.
On Saturday, May 19th, Van Buren County is hosting a 55+ pickleball tournament at Senior City in South Haven. Dozens of teams from around the state will be there.
For more information on the league and the tournament, you can call Gary Schanz at (574) 596-7073.