Neil Eckhoff


I turn 69 in one month. Can that be? I have been an active participant in many sports and activities my whole life. I lettered in several sports in high school and college. I have competed in flag football, soccer, baseball, slow pitch and fast pitch softball, tennis, racket ball, golf and basketball in competitive leagues over my whole adult life. I still played basketball up until two years ago and after six major surgeries. Metal hips, two spine fusions, pelvis rebuilt with three plates and eight screws and one shoulder repaired ended the running activities. And now I have a new knee. Yes, I have beat up the old body pretty well. I thought golf, a pretty much easy going activity, and table tennis were all that was left.

About one and a half years ago my wife and I discovered Pickleball. Had no clue what is was. As you might imagine, I was up for looking at any physical activity that involves a ball of some sort that didn't involve running up and down a court or field. We signed up for the skills and drills classes with Tom and Steve at the Apex. Wow, a new fun activity that required some skill and short movements but no running. We were hooked.

Pickleball has become a major activity in our weekly routine. I found that the people that play at the indoor and outdoor Apex complex are very friendly and accepting to new players. It takes a little time to hone the skills needed to play at a competitive level; if that is the level one wishes to play. The players that have helped me in progressing to a more competitive level had been very friendly, supportive and patient. One does not have to play at a competitive level to enjoy Pickleball. Beginners and noncompetitive players have just as much fun, if not more than the competitive group. And the most important fact is that everyone at every level is treated equally at the Apex. At the indoor facility, we have players from their forties to the eighties. And believe it; they all can compete at a fairly high level.

I tell people that I like Pickleball better than golf, because I lose less balls playing Pickleball. The fact is I really enjoy the comradery, friendly teasing and support of all the players at the Apex. We have reconnected with several people from twenty to twenty-five years ago. Our kids were in elementary, middle, high school or sports activities together. Pickleball has not only been a fun and physically active activity for me and my wife Mary, it has been a social renewal of past friendships and a building of many new relationships. If it wasn't for Pickleball, I would be riding around in a golf cart with three of my friends losing golf balls. Now I get over ten thousand steps in and have a GREAT time with sixty of my new friends and don't lose any Pickleballs.

I would like to thank Pickleball Ken for being our ambassador and bringing to and expanding the game of Pickleball in Arvada and the Apex Center. You have made my life at 69 more fun than I would have imagined. I have many more new friends and more physical activity than I would have had without this addicting game of Pickleball. Zero, zero, start!  Let the game begin!

Appreciatively yours,

Neil Eckhoff