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Pickleball brings generations of Utah family together on the court

Posted at 8:51 AM, Jul 10, 2023

OREM, Utah — At 83 years old, Sylvia Sawyer has amassed a large family and they're closer than ever thanks to pickleball.

Sawyer once coaches racquetball at Brigham Young University and hold the title of World Senior Racquetball Champion in her age division for nearly three decades.

Then, about 15 years ago, she discovered a new sport with a funny name that's now taking the country by storm.

"I was immediately hooked and didn't have any place to play in Orem," Sawyer explained.

She lobbed an idea at the Orem Fitness Center, who volleyed another offer right back and Sawyer got the pickleball train chugging.

"They hired me when I was 72," she remembered. "I thought, 'I've just been hired to do what? At my age?!'"

Once Sawyer found something she loved, she didn't hesitate to share it with her crew.

"Live laugh, play pickleball," she said. "That's our family's motto."

All generations of her family, even her great-grandkids, have fallen in love with the sport.

"The kids really take to it and love it," Sawyer explained. "And we joke around with each other and do a lot of trash-talking."

The verbal sparring was pretty mild, but Sawyer's grandkids agreed that they believe their grandma goes easy on them.

"She's definitely the big deal here," said Jade. "She is always the most intimidating to play because she knows what she's doing and tends to win."

Besides the game at hand, the grandkids have a secondary competition...who can dethrone grandma.

Add in some food and it's a recipe for family togetherness on the pickleball court.

"We usually have pizza, or takeout and it's just fun to hang out outside all day and be under the sun and enjoy time with grandma," Jade said.

"When I don't get to play pickleball and be around my friends. It's a sad day," Sawyer added. "I can't think of better friends than my own family. So that's my very favorite thing is with family."