Coming Together Through Sports – by Eliut Morales

Tournament winners Nancy Melendez and Rich Yu with their trophies
Tournament winners Nancy Melendez and Rich Yu with their trophies

Our Invitational Bethiah Shuemaker Shake, Rally and Roll Pickleball Tournament took place on Saturday, November 10. We sat down with a few of the players, Bonnie Balentine and Rich Yu, as well as Mike Arrington, our Athletics Supervisor, to talk about physical fitness and its benefits.

Everyone has different methods to stay fit. Whether it’s lifting weights in the gym, playing sports, or simply running, we each have our own way of maintaining a level of fitness. “It’s a lifestyle,” Ballentine said, “I’ve been active my entire life. When I was in high school, schools didn’t have sports teams for women, but my school did, so I took advantage of that opportunity.” Ballentine is a retired fitness educator. She added, “When I retired, I joined the Senior Games. I also play pickleball here at the Community Center four days a week and meet with a personal trainer twice a week.”

Working out and playing sports give us plenty of benefits when it comes to physical health, but when asked about other benefits that come with that, Arrington responded, “Whatever the activity or sport being done, I think being able to come together with a group of people with the same fitness goals, and achieving them, is a great feeling.” Ballentine added, “For me, the greatest benefits are the friends you meet. However, the more active you are, the more gracefully you age!”

Pickleball has gained a lot of popularity, so we asked participants what they would say to someone who has never played. “It’s probably some of the most fun you’ll ever have,” said Ballentine, adding, “What really keeps me playing though, are the friendships I’ve made. If you look around, you can see all these people are a family.” Yu mentioned, “I love the pickleball group that we have here at the Community Center. The chance to be here and participate in the tournament was very exciting. I’m honored.”

While pickleball is a great way to be active and meet new friends, we asked our participants how else older adults can add to their routine to stay active. Arringon pointed out, “Walking clubs are a fantastic way to start. Group exercise classes are also a great way to meet people. Always take advantage of the amenities at your local recreation center!” Ballentine also had a few tips. She suggested, “Take the stairs when possible. Dieting is also very important. I think, really, what helps most is surrounding yourself with people that have the same goals as you, and achieving those goals together. If you stay socially and physically active, you’ll live a better life.”

At the Community Center, we take pride in being able to offer our guests a wide variety of exercise classes to help them with their fitness journeys. Pickleball is played every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00am-10:00am. In addition, basketball and table tennis drop-ins are also available. Stop by and see all the opportunities we have in store for you!

Eliut Morales is the Writer/Content Specialist for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at e.morales@manassasparkva.gov.

Leave a comment