Johnson County Senior Center members celebrate their victory over Johnson County High School Seniors in the Battle of the Ages pickleball tournament. Senior Center team proudly holds the coveted giant pickle jar. See full story on page A3. Dan Cullinane
Youthful Enthusiasm meets Experience and Treachery
By Dan Cullinane
It is early evening behind the community center, and the temperature is still topping 80. Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger gives way to We Will Rock You by Queen, and then Johnson County Senior Center Director Kathy Motsinger takes the microphone to welcome the capacity crowd to the highly anticipated Battle of the Ages between the Senior Center and Johnson County High School, in Mountain City, Tennessee.
“Old people gonna get schooled,” Cole “Nugget” Worlock, 17, of the Johnson County High School team named Not Something Stupid, told me as we waited courtside for the first annual Seniors vs. Seniors Pickleball Tournament. Standing nearby, Robert “Father Time” Glenn, 81, responded, “Youth and enthusiasm are no match for experience and treachery.”
The mood is set, and the tension is high for the showdown of the year. As Eric Hoffman, a member of the Senior Center team, told me, “The whole purpose of the event is to introduce the game of Pickleball, a combination of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, to the community, but there is an undercurrent of winning at all costs.”
After a resounding rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by Tonya Townsend, the teams hit the court.
On court 1, Robert “Father Time” Glenn, and LuAnne “Wonder Woman” Suba, took on the JCHS Nugget Masters composed of 16-year-old Dalton “Dill Pickle” Pope and Aubree “AG” Glenn, also 16. Wonder Woman and Father Time quickly dispatched the Nuggets in their first match with a score of 9/3.
Meanwhile, over on court 2, the Nugget himself, Cole Worlock, and his teammate Emmy “Pem Pem” Walker, 16, were getting severely schooled by the Senior Center’s Dana Stoia and Lyle Hill. Even after a savage volley between Worlock and Hill late in game 1, Not Something Stupid went down 9/1. “We got skunked,” a visibly frustrated Walker told me as she stalked off the court, but Worlock was more circumspect. “Old people still got schooled,” he said thoughtfully.
Glenn and Pope improved markedly in their second game and didn’t lose to Suba and Glenn nearly as quickly. While Stoia and Hill again dominated the hapless Not Something Stupids, Walker, playing with a young Serena Williams’s ferocity and rage, scored one more point than in their first game.
“We may have been slightly over-confident,” Nugget Worlock told me as he left the court.
Next on court 1, Rich Suba and Pat Grimes went head to head with JCHS Team The Incredibles. Sierra “SG” Green and her teammate James “Jameson” Potter scored two points in their first game and none in their second. “They deflated the balls,” Potter told me later, explaining his rapid defeat.
On court 2, Kenzie “Starbucks” Kelly and Austin “Steez” West of JCHS team, Something Stupid, went head to head with the savage Senior Center pairing of Davina Chatfield and Mike Essick, who quickly racked up a 9/0 victory over Kelly and West. But the Stupids made a huge comeback in game 2 and made the Seniors work overtime for their eventual 9/5 victory.
Afterward, West was most interested in ensuring that Something Stupid had done better than any of the other JCHS teams. They had.
The final match of the evening saw seniors Caroline Case and Claude Poisson giving Not Something Stupid a final shot at redemption. The knife-edge tension has the bystanders riveted as Case and Poisson keep Pem Pem and Nugget flying around the court, but the two JCHS students gave as good as they got or something and only lost 9/3 in their first game and 9/4 in their second which, is their highest score so far.
The medal presentation saw congratulatory handshakes and warm encouragement all around. The Senior Center teams took home a trophy and individual medals, while the JCHS players took home jars of pickles. Pickles are good, though, and the whole experience worked as intended.
JCHS player Aubree Green summed it up best. “I wasn’t expecting this,” she said with a broad smile.
“This was so much fun. I will definitely play this game again.”