Category Archives: Sports

Four Point Oh!

Well, I got word late yesterday from the USAPA* that I am now a 4.0 pickleball player!

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Here’s the email I received (along with a few other new 4.0’s):

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Rankings range from 1.0 (newbies) to 5.0 (highly skilled).

I’ve been working towards this for over two years, so I’m thrilled!

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And here are the skills that accompany 4.0-level play:

  • Consistent and dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand shots.
  • Reliable serves, lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys and can use spin shots with some success.
  • Occasionally can force errors when serving.
  • Rallies may be lost due to impatience.
  • Uses the dink shot and drop shots to slow down or change the pace of the game.
  • Demonstrates 3rd shot strategies – drop shots, lobs, and fast-paced ground strokes.
  • Aggressive net play and teamwork in doubles is evident.
  • Fully understands the rules of the game and can play by them.

The most important thing I need to work on is impatience. Strangely, patience is one of the most important skills in pickleball, and it’s not my strong suit.

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So I’m off the courts again to work on it some more. 🙂

*United States of America Pickleball Association

Can I Rent a 12 Year Old?

We now have Direct TV for our satellite service.

And because we are new customers (and because satellite carriers give OODLES of things to NEW customers while they give their OLD customers SQUAT),  we get NFL’s Sunday Ticket free for this year.

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I have no idea what that means other than I think I get to choose ANY football game I want to watch regardless if it’s normally broadcast in our area.

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If that’s true,  I’m excited.

First game I want to watch : Bears vs. Packers.

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But because I’m TV- and satellite-technology challenged,  I need to borrow somebody’s 12 year old kid to figure it all out in two nanoseconds and then take two hours to show me how it works…

Then I can watch some football!

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Creating a Walk-On’s Memory

I was listening to ESPN radio this morning and heard a great story about how Western Michigan’s football coach, P.J. Fleck, talk about how he surprised one of his walk-on players with the news that he was now a full scholarship player.

football_620x350Walk-on players are there because they love the game. They start with no athletic scholarships, and rarely do they get awarded one during the academic career.

So to get one is a very big deal.

I love how Fleck describes walk-ons: “These kids are our backbone. They’re the ones who row the boat more than anyone else.”

Fleck is the youngest coach in the FBS. His past includes working as a sixth-grade social studies teacher. He credits that time for teaching him how to understand people and manage his classroom. He also learned how to deliver the same message, but in many different ways so that each individual ‘got it’.

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Read the blurb and watch the video below to see how Coach Fleck made a memory for one (actually all) of his walk-ons (players)! 🙂

From ESPN.com: 

Fleck wrapped a scholarship note with a rubber band around a football to be used for an onside kick at practice, with running back Trevor Sweeney recovering the ball and being told to inspect it. The entire Broncos roster, in on the ploy, surrounded the 5-foot-8 Sweeney before he could even read the whole letter, lifting the junior up and down as he pointed to the sky and struggled to contain his emotions.

“He’s from Mattawan (Michigan), which is right down the street,” Fleck told ESPN.com. “He’s probably the most popular kid on the team, and he’s a 4.0 kid and he plays. He’s full special-teamer for us. Just a kick-butt guy, tough as nails and a really good player.”

“These kids are our backbone,” Fleck added of walk-ons. “They’re the ones who row the boat more than anyone else.”

Wildest (Pickleball) Dream Come True

Bend,  Oregon

I’ve been  playing pickleball for three years.

When  I  first started playing, I thought I was amazing… 🙂 

Then the  more I played,  the more I realized the less I knew.  And the more I played,  the more I realized that my skills were far less than I thought they were. 🙁

Pickleball players  are ranked by the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) according to ability level.  The ranking goes from one to five. Everyone starts out as a one. Then as you get better,  your number goes up.

Carol and I  entered our first tournament as 3.0’s.  We won every match, and we’re moved by the USAPA up to 3.5’s. And we’ve been stuck there for almost two years.

images (4)My goal was  to become good enough to be  ranked 4.0. I didn’t care if I won at  4.0. I just wanted to be ranked a 4.0.

I surpassed that goal yesterday by actually WINNING a tournament as a 4.0. Here’s a photo of my  good medal!

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I had to play at the 4.0 level because my wonderful partner,  Joanne,  has a 4 .0 ranking. (Players can play up but not down rankings.) 

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I’m on cloud nine!

The accomplishment feels similar  to training for and competing in my first (and only)  marathon.

The journey from  deciding to run one,  training for six months to run one,  and actually running all 26.2 miles in one was life changing.

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And the nine month journey to become a better pickleball player has been as well, although in a different way because this journey was less solo. I had lots of coaching and help from fantastic people.

download (5)I was so happy I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…

So I did both!

Pickleball Miles


I played pickleball in the Idaho Senior Games on Friday and Saturday.

What a blast!

0809151012Played tons of pickleball. Met great people. And even won a couple of medals.

Saturday was my busiest day. I played in ten doubles games and nine singles games.

That’s a lot of pickleball. And that’s a lot of steps.

Alas, I lost my FitBit a while ago, so I don’t know how many steps I took.

But there is a way to figure out how many pickleball miles* I had. 🙂

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Two games of pickleball, well doubles games actually, calculate into one pickleball mile.

Most of my singles matches were close, so there were lots of side outs which means longer play. So even though the rallies don’t last as long in singles games, I’m going to count them each as an actual game.

Therefore I had over NINE pickleball miles yesterday!

Just from this weekend, I’m well on my way to earning my 100 miles club patch. 🙂

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(*From The Pickleball Mile sponsored by Pickleball Rocks!)

Cruisin’ Big Dogs, Governors, and Ranchers

Meridian, Idaho

Over 10,000 golden-agers are competing in the National Senior Games this month in Minnesota including Dick Johnson, a 75 year old pickleball buddy of mine from Boise.

nsgYes, they pitch horseshoes and play shuffleboard at the National Senior Games. But this 13-day event, which begins Friday in the Twin Cities, isn’t your grandfather’s sports festival — unless your grandfather is a triathlete, javelin thrower or point guard.

Stereotype-busting is not among the 19 medal sports and two demonstration events at the Games, an Olympic-style competition for men and women ages 50 and older. Still, the perception they are fusty or frail is likely to take a big hit, as nearly 10,000 golden-agers go for gold in everything from three-on-three basketball to archery to pickleball to disc golf. Their message is that no matter how many miles are on their muscles, sports can provide lifelong nourishment to both body and spirit.

I just love looking at individual and group stories about people. Here are a few of athletes competing in the games.

Women’s Basketball 3 on 3 Competition

From NBC News:

With all of its members in their 80s or 90s, the “Albuquerque Cruisin’ Big Dogs” prove age is nothing but a number.

Best quote from that story: The more you don’t move, the less you’ll be able to…

Track and Field Competitions

Former South Dakota governor Frank Farrar has completed in over 300 triathlons over the last 23 years after battling knee surgery and cancer. Farrar placed second at this year’s National Senior Games.

And retired rancher John Zilverberg, who turns 102 in a month, is competing in discus, shot put, javelin, and softball throw events.