Pickleball keeps OKC man, 90, active

 

Dick Ohlheiser was wearing his gold medal proudly.

He finished in first place for his age bracket in the Yukon Senior Games this week.

He and his partner were the only team in the bracket, which was the over-85 group.

Ohlheiser, who is 90, said he got the medal for just being able to play.

“I was the only one in my age group. I didn’t have to beat anyone. Just by being alive and still playing,” he said.

But he played. He played in the next bracket down. He lost two matches fairly quickly, but said he had fun.

“We were outclassed and outplayed in every match,” he said. “I don’t play that much. I can’t move around fast enough. My reaction time is slower than younger people who play.”

Ohlheiser said he took up pickleball about two years ago at one of the Oklahoma City wellness centers.

“It looked like people were having a lot of fun,” he said. “I really liked it.” Ohlheiser said he previously played tennis and golf, so he already was active.

Danny McAllister serves the ball during a pickleball game at the Yukon Senior Games on Wednesday. McAllister, and his wife, Karen, are from Oklahoma City. The tournament was held at the Jackie Cooper Gym and drew almost 300 players. Photo/Terry Groover

He said Pickleball is a lot more social than tennis, but is still terrific exercise.

“I don’t really care — win, lose or draw,” he said. “Having a good time. That’s what it’s all about.”

Ohlheiser said he plays about three times per week.

“Every morning when I get up I’m still thankful for two things —  I’m still looking down at the daisies, not up at them, and I can play pickleball,” Ohlheiser said. “I’m still in good physical condition.”

Pickleball, which is growing in popularity, is similar to tennis, although it is played on a significantly smaller court and uses Wiffle Balls instead of traditional tennis balls.

But it is quick moving.

More than 300 people signed up for the pickleball tournament, which was held at the Jackie Cooper Gymnasium throughout the past week, said Tyler Kilmer, who is director of the Yukon Senior Games.

Pickleball is, by far, the most popular sporting event of the games. Others have included track and field events, weightlifting, 8-ball billiards, golf and basketball. There also were art categories.

Yukon has hosted the senior games for 18 years.

Kilmer said participants this year have come from Kansas, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

The number of pickleball players, he said, was up by about 40 players.

The competition wrapped up Saturday with table tennis.

In all, there were 40 events in 13 categories.

 

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