The racket and ball used for pickleball is shown. 

As gangs go in Selma, we are one of the most elderly. The Galloping Geezers.

We are Pickleball Selma. We are the folks that used to be called Weekend Warriors. We played tennis, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and other pastimes in our younger days.

The tennis boom began in the 1970s, and millions of us active young adults grabbed racquets and spent our Saturdays and Sundays crowded onto the courts at racquet clubs and public parks.

But now — several decades later as old retired folk with less-functional knees, hips, backs — we find that weekdays are optimal for recreation and competition.

By the way, I exaggerated in my first paragraph. We’re not all galloping. Some of us are limping, especially this columnist, who must rest his aching back between games. And we’re waiting for Councilman Scott Robertson to return from a recent back injury.

And not all of us are geezers. In fact, the councilman is one of the younger members of our gang. He and his wife Rose, along with Teresa Herrera and a few others, still hold down day jobs. So they schedule their pickleball games for just after dawn (man, 6:30 a.m. is early) and evenings.

That’s why I predict our growing number of Selma pickleballers will campaign for the city to add lights to our courts at Brentlinger Park. And, after last Tuesday, a couple more permanent nets.

We had about a dozen of us on August 1 on two courts — our biggest crowd of the summer.

Pickleball is the fastest-growing adult recreational sport in America. All over the country — including in the retirement villages of Florida and Arizona — pickleball courts are replacing tennis courts.

Tennis is a great sport. I played and coached it for 50 years. However, there comes a time when some of us simply can’t move around well enough to chase the bouncy ball on the the big court.

Pickleball uses a whiffle ball on a smaller court. Better for geezers — many of whom, like me, suffer from OFS (old/fat/slow).

We began play in Selma in 2013, when the city painted Pickleball lines onto two tennis courts at Brentlinger.

Then, last year, we converted the back tennis court at the park into four pickleball courts. Two have permanent nets, two have lines available for portable nets.

And our ranks have grown. This summer, our regular Tuesday Selma gang has included Vicki Filgas and Mike Freeman, Gary and Mary Hains, myself and my wife Valita, the Robertsons, Teresa Herrera, Bev Cho, Charlotte Downing, Beth Teviotdale, Mike and Francie Caraker and Lenore Gallardo. And we are adding newcomers every week, including even a few strays from Kingsburg.

And for many of us, Tuesday mornings is not enough, so we’re out whacking the ball nights, weekends, Thursdays mornings, etc. And some of us still venture over to the courts in Fowler a couple times a week to join that Geezer gang.

That’s what happens when people discover pickleball. It gets into your bloodstream and you can’t get enough. Until your back, knees and hips begin to complain, at least. But you know what? Geezers can be tough. Don’t believe it? Come join us some Tuesday. My bet is you’ll get hooked.

Join our gang. And if you are offended by the word “gang,” then call us a cult. We worship the holey ball. And remember, Coach Ken’s first two rules of old-folks pickleball: 1) Everybody plays 2) Nobody gets hurt.

Ken Robison, a longtime resident of Selma, is a retired newspaper reporter, editor, photographer and columnist. Selma Stories runs most Wednesdays in the Enterprise Recorder. He can be reached at selmacolumnist@gmail.com

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