Pickleball Points: Beach Blast and Cardiac versus Cancer Survivors

All of that recent activity you see on every pickleball court in the area are our local pickles tweaking their shots in preparation for the Ocean Pines pickleball tournament, in which more than 200 players will compete. Be sure to visit and see some of the matches, and give Frank and Bob a thumbs-up for job well done.

It will be my first tournament competition after two years down with two knee replacements. I am planning on my partner, Squash Hall of Fame inductee and greatest squash right-waller in the last 50 years, Maurice Hechscher, to carry me.

Good job, Kathy Casey — the First State Pickleball Club’s Beach Blast was a success. A new and welcome development this spring is the appearance of more high-level players in their 20s. The Beach Blast medal winners were the usual suspects, but it always is nice to see new faces appear on the podium.

Susie Neudeck and Lindsey Adams took bronze, as did Stan Piesla and Vince Schettino in their respective categories. Jeff Marshall and Brett Stonesifer, as well as Courtney Vaughan and Bruce Smart, have now moved to the gold medal podium almost routinely.

I draw your attention to medal winners I have mentioned in earlier columns, including Pearl Morris, Georgia Billger and Rick Bell, because they will participate in our Cardiac versus Cancer Survivors Team Competition. Take note: Not only are they Survivors, but they compete at the highest levels of their sport.

We hope that the survivors’ efforts inspire the general public to just start moving. We urge you to first check with your doctor about exercise and then engage in some aerobic activity, such as pickleball, biking or walking the beach.

People retire and relocate to our beach communities, away from their traditional neighborhoods, and then they are diagnosed with some threatening illness with which they have to deal. Perhaps they feel isolated in recovery, questioning what they might be able to do with their life afterwards. Well, there is power in exercise, and there is power in laughter.

“Deadman” Steve Bloodsworth died on one of our pickleball courts, but doctors credited his quick-thinking friends, as well as his fitness from pickleball, for his resuscitation. Georgia Billger, 80, should have had a heart attack, but blood rerouted itself in her heart because of her high level of fitness.

After Steve Melofchik’s heart attack, he only had half of his heart working, but with daily dedication to exercise and pickleball, he is a survivor. We are honoring these players and other pickleball survivors on June 6 at Big Chill Beach Club, from 4 to 6 p.m.


Tonight we honor pickleballers who looked death in the face,

Heroes who said they were not ready to leave this place,

Who committed themselves to exercise and fun,

And said, “I just retired and I have hardly begun”

Tonight I ask you to give them your heartfelt, very best,

They, you, and your pickleball friends are our guests

Not apparent at first glance, medical research does advance

Your kind contributions in the pot, helps speed it up — a lot.

Tonight, why not chip in a ten, a five, or just a buck,

So when you are in despair, it might help your luck

None of us are immortal, and it will happen to me and them, and you,

But until then, let’s begin another game of pickleball, Zero-Zero-Two


Our FUNd Raiser will be held at Big Chill Beach Club on the south side of Indian River Inlet. The price of admission is simply to enter and walk around with your pickleball paddle. Pickleballers have their own bar Thursday afternoon, June 6, from 4 to 6 p.m.

This is a great opportunity for the pickleball community to stand up and be counted. The leading raffle prize is a cooking lesson for two with celebrity chef Kevin Reading, a top pickleballer as well, followed by dinner with him at his Abbott’s Grill. A benefactor is matching a percentage of the bar at Big Chill Beach Club during the FUNd Raiser, so bottoms up!

Notes: I was doing my part in explaining pickleball to the older tennis crowd who sometimes doesn’t support pickleball. There are two podcasts with well-known All-American tennis star Gary Plock at www.chipandgarytennis.com. There is quite a bit of lively banter between us about the similarities and differences in both sports.

You can read “Deadman” Steve Bloodsworth’s death-defying story on Coastal Point’s website at http://coastalpoint.com/45223/feature/pickleball-points-whole-new-meanin....

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