Pickleball is all the rage. If you want to learn how to play the sport, Carol Mitchell probably shouldn’t be your first opponent.
At 85, he plays regularly at the RD Evans Community Center on Fort Worth’s west side. She was one of the founders of an active pickleball community there and is known for using an underhanded drop shot to score on opponents regularly.
Drop by RD Evans and you could catch Mitchell in the mix of a competitive game or teach a new player the rules of the sport.
What is pickleball, anyway? Pickleball is a fun sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Played indoors or outdoors on a badminton court with a slightly modified tennis net, the games require some basic equipment: a racket and a plastic ball with holes in it. The game can be played in doubles or singles and can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels.
Kyle White, central supervisor at RD Evans, sat down with Mitchell to find out how he started playing pickleball in 2015 and why he still loves it today.
Q. Tell us about yourself.
A. I am a retired flight attendant with American Airlines. I have lived at Indian Creek Condominiums for 30 years. I have a daughter who followed in my footsteps as a flight attendant, also at American. My son has a commercial real estate business. I have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Q. What are your interests and hobbies? Besides pickleball, of course!
A. Family comes first so I like to be active in whatever they are doing. Cooking is one of my favorite things. I believe cooking makes a home a home. I like to try new recipes and share them with friends and neighbors. I like reading history and biographies. I play pickleball three times a week and mahjong twice a week.
Q. How long have you been a part of the Fort Worth community?
A. I located in Fort Worth in 1992. I was told that living in West Fort Worth was like living in a small town. I later found out that it was true. You meet the same people and, generally, everyone is friendly.
Q. How long have you been coming to RD Evans and other community centers?
A. I started playing pickleball in 2015. A retired dentist, Steve Morris, was the North Texas Pickleball Ambassador. He and I started the program at RD Evans that year. We had a hard time getting enough players in the beginning. It is very gratifying to see how popular it has become.
Q. Why is pickleball your favorite sport?
A. It’s perfect for someone my age. It’s not that big a court to cover. The main thing is that it’s so fun. It is a very social activity and there is always a lot of laughs. And, of course, the exercise aspect is important. I like to help newcomers get started and see how they progress.
Q. What do you like most about your current lifestyle?
A. I like my current lifestyle because I’m busy, but not too busy. My activities are things I choose to do and involve being around people from all walks of life.
Q. What is your favorite social centre?
A. I’ve played pickleball at many of the community centers in Fort Worth, but RD Evans is my favorite. Sure, I’m sentimental about it, but the location is also convenient for me. They have always been helpful and welcoming.
Photo: Carol Mitchell is a regular at the pickleball field at the RD Evans Community Center. “It’s a very social activity and there’s always a lot of laughs,” she said.
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