Finally, it has almost arrived: Team Cardiac vs. Team Cancer. Friday, June 28, 9 a.m. to noon, at Ocean City, Md.’s Northside Park recreational facility on 126th Street. The first-ever Cardiac vs. Cancer Survivors Pickleball Challenge.
The press release about this event mentioned that Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” was nothing compared to what we are going to see in Ocean City. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration, because it will be more like a Survivor’s Tumble.
A team of 12 cardiac survivors will play a team of 12 cancer survivors for a pot of gold and a bottle of pickles. The gold will be awarded to the winning team for a cardiac or cancer charity. There is no cost of admission, and seating is available in the bleachers.
Besides tennis, racquetballers, table-tennis players and badminton players are all finding they have transferable racket skills to pickleball. Well, Ocean City at Northside Park would be a place to begin learning about this sport, because some of the very best in the pickleball community will be competing.
Why all the public attention to such a private matter as your heart or cancer condition? Well, once it happens, it is no longer so private. An army of surgeons, nurses and technicians, with the latest medical equipment, stand operationally ready to surgically strike at these deadly invaders of your health. But perhaps you can avoid them by indulging in the healing power of exercise and laughter.
Several of the survivors playing for Team Cardiac or Team Cancer will have just returned from the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, N.M., where more than 10,000 seniors competed in 20 various sports, and more than 2,000 of them competed in pickleball, America’s fastest growing sport.
The fact is that hundreds of pickleballers report amazing improvements in their health. Slowly walking away from a three-hour grueling pickleball training last week, one fellow, Dave, said with a little smile on his face, “I’m 70, and I am in robust health because of this game.”
I reflected on what Dave said. His comments are exactly why I want more respect for pickleball. I’ve seen firsthand what it does to help so many people, and I get offended when it gets no respect.
The reason we handed out blue bracelets at the Big Chill bash with “Poster Kids of Retirement Living” on them was to give each pickleballer a form of local recognition that signifies they are in the growing army of pickleballers who are inspiring more people every day to live healthier!
A few notes for this week:
• Need a new pickleball paddle? There will be a free drawing for a door prize, which is the newest Paddletek high-performance paddle — the $160 Tempest Pro, which incorporates graphite and features Smart Response technology.
• I have written about Wimbledon, the grandfather of all the racket sports, from an insider’s perspective, and it will be available online at CoastalPoint.com.
“My wife calls me the Forrest Gump of tennis. For a decade and a half, I had very unique access to the grounds of Wimbledon and that very special group of world-class participants who gather there each year.
“Movies have been produced and books written, but they never come anywhere near capturing the aura and charm of Wimbledon. Center Court humbles even the most arrogant superstar, and it transcends tennis as one of the most important social events in England, along with Royal Ascot and Cowes. The Masters in golf and the Kentucky Derby are the only sport events even approaching the majesty of Wimbledon.”
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