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Sullivan County Grabs Gold at State Pickleball Tournament

Sullivan County Grabs Gold: Age can never be a barrier to play pickleball. Whether players are in their 50s, 60s, or beyond, the game tempts with equal enthusiasm. Here, experience and finesse often outshine sheer physical prowess, presenting the enduring value of skill and strategy. Seasoned athletes bring decades of wisdom to the court, demonstrating that gracefulness and sharp reflexes know no age limit. From rookies to seasoned pros, pickleball nurtures a vibrant community where companionship and competitive spirit flourish, go beyond generational boundaries. It’s evidence of the sport’s inclusivity and the timeless joy it instills in players of all ages.

Senior pickleball enthusiasts from Sullivan County made their mark at the Empire State Senior Games Pickleball Tournament held from June 12 to June 14 in Cortland, NY. This prestigious event drew over 500 players aged 50 and older, competing across various skill and age divisions.

Participants compete for top positions, with the top four teams in each category securing spots at the 2025 National Senior Games in Des Moines, Iowa.

Among the standout performers, John Pilny, 82, secured a gold medal in men’s singles (80-85) and added a bronze in mixed doubles alongside a teammate from Rochester, NY. Lynn McDonald of Grahamsville also shone brightly, securing two gold medals.

Reflecting on his journey, Bill Bolte, 78, shared his introduction to pickleball through his wife’s encouragement:

About 8 years ago, one of my wife’s tennis friends suggested playing pickleball as well. She (Gail) asked me if I was interested in trying it out to which I declined because of the corny name. Well, after she played it several times, she said it was fun and I should go with her. Then she gave me the ultimatum, I wouldn’t get dinner if I don’t go with her. Given that I like her cooking, I reluctantly went to try it out. I became hooked on pickleball after the first game.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I still think the game should have been given a more aggressively sounding name, such as Forceball or Smashball. But after playing it for almost 8 years, the stigma of the wimpy name has worn off!” – (bill bilte)

Bill and Gail Bolte have been standouts at the Empire State Senior Pickleball Tournament, presenting their skills year after year. In 2022, they scored an impressive three medals, and in the latest tournament, Gail scored gold in both Women’s Doubles and Women’s Singles, while Bill emerged victorious in Men’s Doubles. Their consistent success underscores their dedication and skill in the sport, setting a high standard for competitors in their age group.

Sullivan County Grabs Gold (1)

Locally, pickleball enthusiasts can enjoy games at various venues including the Callicoon Indoor/Outdoor Delaware Youth Center, Bethel Duggan Gym (Indoor) and Park (Outdoor), Liberty Middle School (Indoor) & Hanofee Park (Outdoor), and Grahamsville Park (Outdoor). Other spots like the Roscoe Mountain Club also offer pickleball courts for rent.

Notable Athletes and Medalists:

  • Gail Bolte (69) (North Branch)
  • Bill Bolte (78) (North Branch)
  • John Pilny (83) (Jeffersonville)
  • Lynn McDonald (69) (Grahamsville)
  • Paul Siegel (72) (White Lake)
  • Joanne Dondero (76) (White Plains)

Key Medals:

  • Gail Bolte: Women’s Singles (65-69); Gold
  • Gail Bolte & Lynn McDonald: Women’s Doubles (65-69); Gold
  • Bill Bolte & Joanne Dondero: Mixed Doubles (75-79); Gold
  • John Pilny: Men’s Singles (80-84); Gold
  • Lynn McDonald & Paul Siegel: Mixed Doubles (70-74); Gold

News in Brief: Sullivan County Grabs Gold

Age proves no barrier in pickleball, where players of all ages—from their 50s to beyond—accept the sport with equal passion. Experience and skills often win over sheer physical prowess, highlighting the enduring importance of skill and strategy. Seasoned athletes bring decades of wisdom to the court, demonstrating that agility and sharp reflexes are timeless. From newcomers to seasoned veterans, pickleball promotes a vibrant community where companionship and competitive spirit thrive across generations. The success of senior players from Sullivan County at the Empire State Senior Games represents this, presenting their achievements and dedication in a sport that exceeds age boundaries.

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