This week it gives me great pleasure to write about two outstanding humans. I have mentioned frequently the pickleball accomplishments of both Pearl Morris and Diane Milam, and both are to be honored at a banquet on Nov. 10 in Dover. Pearl was honored by DSO with the Charlie Marten Memorial Award for 2018, and Diane was honored last year with the same award. Many in the pickleball community have indirectly met Pearl and Diane because they are always the first to drop everything and volunteer for any public pickleball clinics in the area. DSO could not have selected two finer individuals and I know you all join me in congratulating them.
What makes this most remarkable for me is that both Pearl and Diane had double-knee replacements during the last year, and both hit the gym hard afterwards to quickly return to the pickleball courts. I currently am in that same rehab process and know how difficult it must have been for them, so I particularly want to tip my hat to them. They are not only outstanding athletes, but determined fitness warriors who are a guiding example for every person over fifty.
As I was writing this article, both Pearl and Diane were in attendance at the Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah with more than 11,000 athletes competing in 30 different sports. Not only did they compete in pickleball, they came in fifth place in the Huntsman games on their Lewes women’s softball team.
Diane’s mother, “Queen mother” Marion Lisehora, won a Gold Medal this year in her pickleball category of 85-89. In the 1950s, Marion was the young girl on the diving horse at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier. She and the 2,000-pound horse dove from the height of a six-story building into a small tank with 12 feet of water. Little wonder that Diane would be a superb athlete. Something makes me think that years ago Marion might have said something like, “Well, daughter, you have options in life so take your pick. Do you want to dive on a big horse into a little tank of water, eat your spinach, or get really good at pickleball?”
Charlie Marten was a passionate basketball player who, when struck with Parkinson’s, continued to play, and then became the heart and soul of the Delaware Senior Olympics basketball tournament, and an active participant in the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s.
On a second pickleball point, I want to thank the folks at Bishops Landing for inviting me to a under the lights session at their pickleball courts. Byron Plumly, one of the captains of the Coastal Community Pickleball League, has done a great job organizing pickleball at that community, and Ron Belinko, the retired Coordinator of Athletics in Baltimore County Public Schools, just graduated another stellar group of pickleball beginners. Well done, Ron and Byron.
A third pickleball point. Stan Piesla, a pickleballer from Millville by the Sea, asked me to write a few words for the website, pickleballcoast.com, about the FUN League which officially is the Coastal Community Pickleball League, and referred to me as “The Godfather” and a Proud Poppa of the creation of the league. I am certainly not the Godfather, but I did play tennis with the son and nephew of major league Godfathers, but that is another story for another day. Stan, you give me far too much credit. The success of the Fun League is a direct result of outstanding captains.
Periodically, I traveled around and monitored the first events when the captains were trying to figure out the best format, which in many cases was like squeezing a large square in a small circle. One team had 15 players, another five. One community had six courts, others two, and many, because of resurfacing, had none for weeks at a time. I was so impressed to see the captains making decisions literally on the run from one court to another. Pickleball has a great many talented retired pickleballers in her ranks. There is no question I love to see our local pickleballers gradually improve and make their mark on the competitive pickkeball world, but the greatest joy I have experienced has been watching the captains artistically handcraft the FUN league into all the good pickleball represents. I do think both Steve and Colleen Costa deserve a special mention for their hours of work behind the scenes assisting the captains to bring this idea forward.
On a general housekeeping point for the entire area, everyone who watches over the outdoor tennis and pickleball courts in our local communities should be sure someone is responsible for taking tension off the nets attached to permanent net posts before freezing cold weather arrives. The cables contract and, with the extra weight of wet nets, the pressure begins to tug at both net posts and the top of the posts pull inward while under the court they begin to push out and upwards allowing enough of a crack on the surface to allow water into the post hole.
Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.
By Vaughn Baker
Special to the Coastal Point