Don’t let their AARP or grandparent status fool you, because when the Harker Heights pickleballers get on the court, they have their game faces on.
Charlotte Maindelle, 69, Frances Killingsworth, 75, Charles Worthington, 68, Billy Blackman, 65, Jose Hernandez, 75, and Charley Gibson, 57, traveled to San Antonio last week to compete in the Texas State Senior Games.
Hernandez and Killingsworth took home the bronze medal in mixed doubles and Killingsworth garnered a gold medal in volleyball along with a silver medal in women’s pickleball doubles.
“The competition was tougher this year,” said Maindelle, who has been playing the game on and off for the past four years. She took home gold in the shot put and triple jump and silver in the high jump, long jump and discus during the 2012 Texas State Senior Games. “I will definitely participate again next year because the people are fun-loving and the competition doesn’t undermine the camaraderie.”
Pickleball is a racket sport in which two single players or four doubles players use a paddle, similar but bigger than a ping-pong paddle, to hit a polymer perforated ball over a net. The sport uses the dimensions and layout of a badminton court and a net and rules similar to tennis.
“I learned how to place the ball more carefully,” Gibson said on what he took away from his first time at the games.
When he first heard the word pickleball in September, he had no idea what his friends were talking about. After giving it a try, he’s been playing ever since,
The Texas Senior Games has something for everyone age 50 or older with competitions in 19 sports ranging from archery to volleyball. These games are qualifiers for the 2015 national games on July 3-16 in Minnesota.
In addition to playing in the games, Killingsworth was inducted into the Texas State Senior Games Hall of Fame.
The group is currently gearing up for tournament play in Cedar Park and in Mississippi in May.
Pickleballers practice at the Recreation Center from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays, and from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.