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Heartwarming Pickleball Story Will Give You Goosebumps

by Thomas Shields on

This what it's about, folks.

Tour Wars this, paddle controversy that. Nope, those are side shows. Distractions.

Distractions from the truth: pickleball is the most inclusive sport. It brings people together. It sparks romances that end in marriage. It unites families. It turns couch potatoes into pickle junkies.

And, pickleball creates memories. Like this one, from a man who took to Twitter to recount a heartwarming story of underdog triumph.

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Full Transcript if you don't have X (Twitter) access:

Today in pickleball, a lady brought her 13 year old special needs son out with her.

She made it a point to let us know that he didn’t want to play, but it was pretty obvious that he was fascinated by the game. He stood right by the court, running back and forth, watching every shot.

He would congratulate us on good shots, and bump us up if he was close. I loved his energy.

After a few games, I asked him if he wanted to play and he said “I can’t. I am not good”.

I told him “Of course you’re good. And you’re my partner.”

We played a couple of younger guys and they weren’t taking it easy on him. I am sure he didn’t want them to, but they went after him with any shot they could.

So when I had the chance, I went after them. Hard.

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My partner (Alex) was doing the best he could. He had said he had never played and a lot of his balls either went into the net or sailed way long.

I didn’t mind. I just wanted him to have fun and realize he COULD do anything he wanted.

Still, eventually some how we were tied at 9 (game to 11) and I was serving.

On the first serve, we volleyed for a few seconds, when one of the other guys popped a lob up to Alex.

He absolutely crushed it straight between them for his first point. We all kinda looked at each other like “Where tf did that come from???”

He celebrated as if he had just won the US Open. It literally gave me a chill, but we still had one more point to go.

I told him “Let’s get one more, buddy.”

I served again, very similar sequence, and then one of the guys hit a soft dink to his left. I honestly assumed it was going to be good and the serve would go back to their side.

Alex chased it down, and was able to hit the a backhand just hard enough to catch the top of the net and barely roll over for the game winning point.

He absolute exploded after the ball bounced and we had won. I was shocked. I walked over to tell him great shot, and this 13 year old kid hugged me like I had never been hugged, literally picking me up off the ground and holding me there for a couple of seconds.

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To be honest, this was one game that I didn’t care if we won or lost, but I have zero doubt that Alex will never, ever forget how those few minutes felt.

I can be an absolute ruthless competitor. Hell, I can be a dick. I mean, I don’t let my 5 year old daughter win at Candyland. But this morning, I remembered why I fell in love with sports to begin with, and the sheer joy one can attain from competition.

I stick out like a sore thumb in our Saturday morning group. I look like a linebacker playing with a bunch of skinny college kids, retired teachers, dentists, and bankers.

But when his mother mouthed “Thank you” to me, I couldn’t hide the tears that poured out from under my sunglasses.

Truth be told, those few minutes did as much for me as they did for Alex.

Y’all have a great Saturday.

Hats off to you, Boyd. And congrats, Alex.

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Thomas Shields

Thomas Shields

Founder of The Dink & Upswing Sports. Host of PicklePod with Zane Navratil. Sometimes commentator and show host.

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