Jack Schuh, of St. Joseph, holds a pickleball paddle and a pickleball at the Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud in a game that is popular for its ease to learn but can be challenging for even experienced players. Photo by Frank Lee

Jack Schuh, of St. Joseph, holds a pickleball paddle and a pickleball at the Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud in a game that is popular for its ease to learn but can be challenging for even experienced players. Photo by Frank Lee

St. Joseph man to participate in Senior Games in May

Jack Schuh’s secret to a long and a happy life is just to keep moving.

The 83-year-old keeps up an active lifestyle that puts men a quarter of his age to shame, and the retired postal worker will again compete in the Minnesota Senior Games in St. Cloud this May.

“Last year, I played pickleball in the Senior Games, and they had to put me in the category with the 60-year-old people … and this year, when I went and registered, they still couldn’t find anybody old enough,” Schuh said.

The St. Joseph resident eats his weekday meals at the Catholic Charities’ Senior Dining site at the Whitney Senior Center on Northway Drive, where he also plays tennis and volleyball, too.

“They have tennis, golf, basketball – just about any game you can think of,” Schuh said of the Senior Games, which will be held from May 19-22. “And most of those games — like pickleball, basketball and volleyball — those games will be held right here at Whitney Senior Center.”

Schuh retired almost 25 years ago, but he hasn’t let retirement slow him down and credits physical activity for his good health.

“I don’t take any medication for anything,” said Schuh, who eats regular meals and takes a baby aspirin and a vitamin every day.

Schuh said he became involved with sports in the 1970s after experiencing chest pains and spasms.

“I lived in Waite Park then, and across the street at McKinley Elementary School, they were playing volleyball … and I thought if they could do it, I could do it,” he said. “And after I did that for a couple of months, pretty soon everything kind of cleared up just from the exercise.”

Schuh encourages other seniors like himself to just “get up and do it” – exercise, that is – and pretty soon they will be feeling as good as he does.

Jack Schuh holds a perforated plastic baseball, used to play pickleball. Photo by Frank Lee

Jack Schuh holds a perforated plastic baseball, used to play pickleball. Photo by Frank Lee

“I can play pickleball and be sopping wet and then I take a shower at the Whitney Senior Center and then also take my blood pressure here, and it would be 111 over 60 – perfect,” Schuh said.

Pickleball is played with a perforated plastic baseball on a badminton court using wood or composite paddles with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center.

“It’s a cross between table tennis and tennis. You use, like, a table tennis paddle but one that is a little larger … and a ball similar to a whiffle ball,” Schuh said.

It is easy for beginners to learn “but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players,” according to the USA Pickleball Association.

“It started in Florida, Arizona, California and Texas – all the warmer states – and now it’s up in this area,” Schuh said. “By the water tower on Cooper Avenue, they took out two tennis courts and put in six state-of-the-art pickleball courts, and they’re teaching it in schools now.”

Pickleball was invented in the mid-1960s as a children’s backyard pastime but soon caught on with adults as a fun game for players of varying abilities.

“They’re putting in pickleball courts all over,” Schuh said. “If you go to Brainerd, if you go to resorts, every one of the places has a pickleball court, and now the little towns are starting to put them in and the cities, too.”