The scorching summer heat wave has driven most people indoors to the comfort of air conditioning. But a group of die-hard pickleball enthusiasts in Glastonbury, CT are not willing to let soaring temperatures deter them from their favorite pastime. Armed with guts, grit and gusto, these intrepid athletes have been braving the sweltering weather to face off in fierce pickleball competition at the new courts in town.
I recently had the chance to experience the electric atmosphere at the Riverfront Community Center Fairgrounds, where these devoted players have been congregating daily to smack balls back and forth across netted battlegrounds. As soon as I arrived at the pickleball courts, I could feel the energy and excitement in the air despite the oppressive heat. Players were scattered across the six courts, paddles in hand, focused intently on volleying the ball over the net. The “pop” sound of paddles making contact with balls resonated loudly as I walked over to speak with some of the players.
“We just love the game so much, we couldn’t imagine giving it up just because of a little heat,” shared Linda R., a 62-year-old pickleball enthusiast who coordinates the daily matches. She explained that the group initially tried playing at other locations around town, but the Riverfront Community Center courts offered a shady oasis thanks to the soaring trees surrounding the courts. Giant portable fans are set up on the sidelines, offering sweet relief to players during breaks. Everyone comes equipped with jugs of ice water, electrolyte drinks, towels, and mini battery-powered misters to combat the harsh conditions.
As I surveyed the scene, the passion and motivation of these athletes was palpable. They were not going to let anything stand in the way of their beloved sport – even if it meant braving sweltering 95+ degree heat and intense humidity day after day. David S., a 73-year-old player, summarized the mentality of the group: “When you love a sport as much as we love pickleball, you’ll put up with just about anything to keep playing – heat waves, rain storms, you name it. We’re just a bunch of dedicated pickleball nuts out here!”
The matches unfolded with a competitive intensity belying the advanced age and physical limitations of many players. Skilled maneuvers, fancy paddle work and artful drop shots were on full display. The atmosphere was punctuated by lively banter, colorful trash talk and bursts of laughter between points. During breaks, players reveled in rehashing highlights from recent matches or strategizing game plans for upcoming court battles. The camaraderie and social bonds formed through their shared passion for pickleball were evident.
As an observer, I was struck by the infectious enthusiasm, gritty determination and steely perseverance of these individuals. While most people their age might be content staying home in air conditioned comfort, these spry seniors were choosing to actively embrace life and push physical limits despite the risks. They were unwilling to stop pursuing joy and community connectedness, even if it meant enduring sweltering heat and exhaustion. Their dedication spoke volumes about the power of passion, commitment and living life to the fullest no matter what obstacles may stand in the way. The future of pickleball looks bright if it can inspire this level of fervor and resilience even in the face of oppressive summer heat waves.