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Featured Athletes Lloyd and Sarah

Pickleball is a sport that is heavily on the rise in the United States over the past few years.  One of the main appeals of the sport is that it can be played by people of all ages.  The sport was first introduced to the Powerade State Games in 2015, when the event was held at the Raleigh Convention Center.  Fast forward a few short years and over 200 participants are expected to play in the Powerade State Games Pickleball Tournament to be held at Wake Forest University on June 9-11. 

           Two ladies who plan to participate as partners in June demonstrate the uniqueness of the sport and support the old adage that age is only a number.  Lloyd Ford, age 58, and Sarah Yates, age 26, both reside in Winston-Salem and have been playing partners for a few years now.  Lloyd picked up the sport after she retired and noticed Pickleball was being offered at the Gateway YWCA.  “Having been fortunate enough to play tennis on the UNC-Chapel Hill team a million years ago, a friend and I decided to check it out,” she says.  Sarah is originally from South Florida, where Pickleball is more popular.  “I started playing Pickleball while I came home for vacations from school.  My brother and family got very involved” in the sport, she explained. 

The unlikely friendship developed after they were introduced at their local Pickleball club in Winston-Salem.  “I had the privilege of getting to play with Sarah pretty early on – we had a lot of fun playing together and the first time she asked me to play in a tourney, I of course accepted,” Lloyd says.  As Sarah puts it, “Yes, there may be an age gap, but when we are together, you cannot tell.”  It is remarkable that a sport allows competitors to play together and develop friendships between generations. 

Both ladies note that the draw of Pickleball is not just the sport itself, but the wonderful friends and nice people you interact with along the way.  “Meeting so many nice people from lots of diverse backgrounds made Pickleball especially appealing and I have enjoyed the camaraderie almost as much as the sport itself….tons of laughing while still very competitive,” notes Lloyd.  Indeed, if you happen across a Pickleball game, you will note how much fun everyone seems to have.  It is like a close-knit community, yet everyone seems to be very competitive as well.  As Sarah puts it, “Every tournament I play in, I meet new people and strengthen friendships.  It truly is a family.”