Ann Cannon of Godfrey celebrates 89 years with pickleball

GODFREY – April is National Pickleball Month and there’s no one better to ask about the benefits of playing than Godfrey’s Ann Cannon.

Mrs. Cannon celebrated his 89th birthday in February by playing pickleball with fellow members of the Riverbend Pickleball Group.

Pickleball is named as the fastest growing sport by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). According to SFIA, pickleball has grown by nearly 40% in the last two years.

Started in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, a small town accessible by ferry from Seattle, it is a unique, multi-generational sport that incorporates elements of badminton, ping pong and tennis. It’s cheap to get involved and requires minimal time to master the basic rules. It can be played indoors or outdoors as singles or doubles, with most games being played in doubles. The court is the same size as a badminton court, making it popular with senior tennis players unable to maneuver the larger tennis court.

Initially, pickleball was thought to be a game for the adult and elderly populations, predominantly in retirement communities and trailer parks. Today you can find the sport being offered in physical education programs from elementary to high school and it is very popular with celebrities like Jenna Bush Hager, Leonardo Dicaprio, Ellen DeGeneres, George Clooney, Larry David, Jillian Michaels and Michael Phelps, to name a few. some.

Cannon – a mother of eight, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of 13 – started playing pickleball a few years ago after visiting her granddaughter in Seattle, Washington. Not being familiar with the game, she contacted her son in Dallas asking what he knew about the game. As her mother, pickleball was unfamiliar, so he did some research and she started looking for a place to play. Unfortunately, the area was a pickleball wasteland until 2019, when Alton Parks and Recreation scored on four pickleball courts at Gordon Moore Park.

Now both are pickleball enthusiasts, as are three brothers. His children are scattered all over the country, which gives him the opportunity to travel to visit them several times a year. When she does, she always packs her pickleball racket knowing there will be an opportunity to play, whether in Alabama, Texas, Iowa, South Carolina or Ohio.

Ruby Berghoff, US Pickleball Ambassador for Madison County, says everyone loves seeing Ann on the court.

“Ann may not have the upper-body strength to hit the ball hard,” Berghoff said, “but she has earned a reputation as a proficient dinker, a critical soft-playing tactic used to disarm more powerful opponents, forcing her them to make a mistake. . Ann is always excited, arriving with a smile on her face and a friendly greeting, ready to play on the coldest or hottest day of the year. And Ann is definitely the best dressed player on the court. We all marvel at her colorful and elegant pickleball wardrobe, accented by a collection of t-shirts emblazoned with popular pickleball expressions. She is truly an inspiration to all of us.”

When asked what she likes most about pickleball, Ms. Cannon says it’s the friends she’s made and the social interaction. This was critical during COVID, when we were all struggling for social interaction. Pickleball is not only known for its social aspect, it also provides low-impact physical exercise and tests mental alertness. Ask any pickleball player what the hardest aspect of pickleball is, and he’ll laugh and say keep score.

When you’re not playing pickleball two to three times a week, you’ll find Ann busy working in her yard, reading or mastering puzzles. And if that wasn’t enough, she also maintains a competitive challenge with some of her children to walk at least 6,000 steps a day, a challenge she faces or overcomes daily.

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