Pickleball Points: A whole new meaning in pickleball to ‘Sudden Death’

I had an interesting experience last week. I interviewed a dead man.  

I know I will never win a Pulitzer with my writing, but I now envision a place in a dusty corner of Ripleys Believe It or Not. We sat down outside the locker room of a sports facility, and I started the interview this way, “So Deadman, how did you get into this predicament?”  

But my first indication that he really was not that dead is during my initial phone call, he eagerly agreed to meet me anywhere in Delaware to pass along his messages. Deadman had been aware of his high blood pressure since he was a young man, and he didn’t help his situation any with some high stress situations along the way. He became overweight, smoked as well, and although a fair athlete in school, did no exercise for over four decades. Sound familiar?

Having explained his background, Deadman was adamant that we are each responsible for our own health, and he had been personally responsible for his own untimely death. He said, “No one knows your bad health habits better than you!”  

I suspect by now my readers want to know the name of Deadman. He is Steve Bloodsworth of Heritage Shores near Bridgeville.After moving to Delaware, Steve decided to take responsibility for his own health and went on a diet, and became an avid walker to exercise his way back to acceptable health. Two years ago he discovered pickleball, and like many of us, found the sociability of pickleball great fun, and appreciated that the hours of exercise passed so easily.

Steve was playing pickleball one evening, felt tired, sat down to rest, and remembers nothing more. They now tell him he died. Fortunately, two of his fellow pickleballers, Kathy Lewis and Bill Edelman, saw that he was unresponsive, stretched him on the floor, called 911, and started CPR. Another player went to fetch an Automated external defibrillator (AED) only to find it locked up, then ran quite a distance to find another AED. The paramedics soon arrived and then rushed Steve to the ER at Nanticoke Hospital where they did an excellent job resuscitating him and putting him into a medically-induced coma. The doctors told his wife that the strength of his heart from his exercise regimen and pickleball had helped his resuscitation. Thirty days later, Deadman returned to the pickleball Courts.

I was taking notes furiously while Steve told me his story. Later as I reviewed my own notes from the conversation, I noticed I had scribbled on the margin, “Why why why did I eat all those potatoes chips for lunch? And that ice cream last night?”

Steve suddenly asked me if I had heart trouble. “Me? Why, do I look it?” I could suddenly feel the unattractive fat bulging over my belt, and then he slipped in a right hook by reminding me that exercise alone is not enough to lose all that weight. He got me on age as well because he then went on to add, “We all need to change our eating habits as we age.” 

Deadman didn’t tell me one piece of new information during this entire interview, but the way he told me — so wonderfully happy about still being alive, is what got my attention.

His second message was also as passionate. Just because people technically know how to use First Aid equipment does not mean they will. He went on to add that many freeze in the face of emergency so he wanted to yell out a big thank you to Kathy and Bill, who did use it.  

I can almost hear some reader sitting in front of the television saying to his wife, “I don’t want to get dead exercising like that Deadman guy, so turn up the volume and pass the potatoes chips.”  But the real message here is that Steve, because of his own personal exercise schedule, and of proper medical attention, is alive because of his own attention to exercise, and with the prompt action of his fellow pickleballers. 

Information about diet and exercise is abundantly available, but many people are not paying attention. The reason I have written in this playful format for such a serious subject is that I want you to take a copy of Coastal Point and give one, with this page flagged, to friends who need to hear these words. Deadman, Steve Bloodsworth, and I don’t care if you play pickleball, or walk along our beautiful beaches, just keep moving and exercise!  And for all of us — pay attention to one another, and take immediate action when we recognize a friend who needs help.

Steve expects to do something that few dead people do — he will soon visit his son, who is a company commander in the United States Marine Corps, stationed in Hawaii, a soon to be father, and a new grandbaby for Steve! Congratulations to pickleballer Steve Bloodsworth and his family.

And it is Steve’s story, and others, that inspired me to create the first Stents versus Cs, Heart versus Cancer, team competition on June 28 at Northside Park in Ocean City.  The FUN raiser for that special event will be at the beautiful Big Chill Beach Club from 4-6 p.m. on June 6.

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