Pickleball – A Sport for All Ages & Abilities

For many Y members, the sport of pickleball can be a fun workout, as well as a wonderful social activity. Gaining in popularity over the last several years, pickleball, which combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, is a simple game, appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels.

That’s why you’ll find 92-year old Y member, Nelson Fischer, on the pickleball court three times a week, playing a sport that has him not only staying physically fit, but also making new friends along the way.

A YMCA member since 2015, Fischer has always been active, involved in everything from downhill skiing to various team sports. But surprisingly, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to chat with Fischer, he describes his experience with pickleball as less to do with fitness, and more to do with camaraderie among fellow players.

“As you get older,” says Fischer, “you want to be around people more.”

Fischer spends a lot of his time at home, caring for his wife who suffers from dementia, and values the respite for his own well-being, by playing pickleball at the Watertown Area YMCA.

Because a pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court (you can actually convert one tennis court into four pickleball courts), gameplay allows players to be close enough to one another that they can hold conversations. 

“I’m so thankful for the friends I’ve made here, and realize how important it truly is,” says Fischer. “My time here at the Y, playing pickleball, has made me feel younger, both physically and mentally.”

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Friendship in All Walks of Life

Watertown Area YMCA members enjoy time spent together.

Whoever said “blood is thicker than water” certainly never met the rousing group of friends who make up the “One Big Happy Y Family” at the Watertown Area YMCA.

Coming from all different walks of life, these active senior women truly love, laugh and live well together. Celebrating everything from birthdays, graduations and holidays to hosting events and outings to welcoming one another back from a surgery or illness, they are one tight knit group of gal pals.

Nell Winkler, long-time YMCA member, considers herself lucky for being part of such a special friendship. At 76 years young, Winkler first joined the Watertown Y when it was known as the HAWC in order to start working on gaining back muscle tone and strength. Now, several years later, she says she had no idea at the time that it would lead to all the amazing friendships she has today.

“The Y has impacted me in so many ways,” she says. “I have made lovely friends. If I miss a class, it really affects my entire day. I’m so very thankful for the people at the Y and their kindness.”

Winkler says her friendships made at the Y go even further than just exercising together. “We’ve confided in one another. We’ve hugged and cried. We’ve comforted one another in times of need.”

She considers herself to be a happy, healthy senior because of what the Y has offered her both physically and emotionally.