Lorain County Community College prides itself on being an all inclusive community and has various amounts of programs that do as such.
Silver Sneakers is the nation’s leading well-being fitness program for ages 65 and older led at LCCC by Nanci Ickes.
The program puts an emphasis on physical activities and similar to the rest of the world, LCCC has recently found an awakening in pickleball.
The Rise of Pickleball
Pickleball is a paddle sport that draws similarities from Tennis, Badminton, and Ping-Pong.
The sport gets its name from a rowing sport referring to the slowest craft as a “pickle boat”.
After its start outside Seattle in 1965, Pickleball has continued to steadily gain in popularity over the last few years even drawing the attention of super athlete LeBron James who just purchased the rights to a team.
Journey to LCCC
Ickes spearheaded the journey into pickleball alongside LCCC’s new Dean Chris Hirschler, Ph.D., who has a past with the sport from his previous stint in New Jersey.
When asked why pickleball of all the sports Dean Hirschler said, it was his “mission to bring pickleball back,” and he has done so.
Silver Sneakers has a pickleball clinic that takes place on Thursdays and well over a dozen members come and indulge themselves in the amusement.
Lois Carns, a former LCCC employee who has since retired, is one of guests who comes to play pickleball.
This opportunity was her first experience with pickleball and the Silver Sneakers Program but said she will “definitely be coming back.”
“These experiences are so satisfactory for many because they get to meet new people, partake in good physical activity, and have good conversations,” said Carns.
Pickleball is the perfect sport for new members, as it’s “easy to pick up, you don’t have to be uber athletic, or even a quick learner,” agrees Hirschler.
Andrea, also referred to as the “Pickleball Queen” by facility coordinator Sarah Kyser, is a member of the Silver Sneakers Program who graduated through LCCC’s Partnership Program with four degrees.
When first starting pickleball Andrea said she “had never heard of it.” She had started as a spectator just happy to be in the community and had no interest in even giving the sport a chance after recently getting a hip replacement.
That soon changed and Andrea finally decided to give it a chance.
Sure enough she would go on to “love the game so much,” and even go as far as saying that pickleball “saved” her life.
The physical aspect of the sport helped her drop weight and serve as physical therapy for her hip replacement. While the mental aspect allowed her to be a part of a community and have lively interactions as well.
And how right she is. According to muschealth.org, a website championed by the Medical University of South Carolina, pickleball is especially beneficial to seniors.
Due to it being slower in nature compared to other racket sports, Pickleball also features a smaller court making it easier to keep the ball in play.
The smaller court gives players less room to over exert themselves and is better on the joints due to lack of a need for running.
The soft ball and solid rackets also require less intensity leading to less stress on tendons and muscles in the arms.
And there’s also the social aspect. With the lower number of players, Pickleball allows more interaction between teams to socialize while exercising.
Lauren Hoffman, Editor-In-Chief contributed to this story.