Grand Lake residents take pickleball gold at Rocky Mountain State Games |

Grand Lake residents take pickleball gold at Rocky Mountain State Games

Stanley Johnson (left) and Peggy Mann flash the thumbs up sign at the camera after winning gold medals at the 2018 Rocky Mountain State Games in mid-July.
Courtesy photo

What is pickleball? Pickleball is competitive sport that utilizes racquets, a ball and a net during play in a fashion similar to tennis. The sport is most often compared to tennis, table tennis and badminton. During pickleball play one side serves a small wiffle ball to the opposing side. The ball is volleyed back and forth between opposing side until one side commits a fault. Pickleball was invented in 1965 in Washington state by then congressman Joel Pritchard and his two friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum. The name of the sport is derived from the crew term “pickle boat” wherein oarsmen for a boat are selected from the leftovers of other boats.

Pickleball is a pretty serious affair for many residents of Grand Lake, so much so that earlier this summer two members of the community took home gold at the 2018 Rocky Mountain State Games.

Pickleball, a paddle sport that incorporates elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis into a unique competitive endeavor, is particularly popular with older citizens, due in part to the lower impact the sport produces on joints as compared to other similar sports like tennis. The town of Grand Lake has its own pickleball club.

In mid-July, three members of the Grand Lake community, Peggy Mann and Stanley and Ann Johnson, competed in the Rocky Mountain State Games, held at Monument Park in Colorado Springs. Mann and Stanley Johnson took home gold medals in the 60 and over mixed doubles while Mann and Ann Johnson took home silver medals in the ladies doubles event.

The competitive success that Mann and the Johnsons experienced at the state games came on the heels of another gold medal win for Stanley Johnson just days before. On July 19, Johnson took home a gold medal from the Rocky Mountain Senior Games. For their achievement Mann and the Johnsons received medals and are automatically eligible for the State Games of America 2019, to be held in Lynchburg, Va.

Stanley Johnson, who splits his time between Grand Lake and England, said he discovered pickleball by accident after coming to Grand Lake. 

“You get to an age where you are looking for an alternative,” Stanley Johnson said. “Pickleball is easier on the joints but there are aspects of health and fitness. It is a great sport for people who still want something competitive but are at an age that they can’t do what they used to do.”

The Rocky Mountain State Games is an annual sporting tournament that event organizers call Colorado’s largest multi-sport festival for athletes of all ages and athletic abilities. The Colorado Springs Sports Corporation puts on the Games, which offers a dizzying array of events ranging from arm wrestling to Taekwondo. According to event organizers, over 4,500 athletes competed in 21 sports.

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