At 97, this Rockwall pickleball player is kind of a big dill

ROCKWALL, TX (Jan. 9, 2023) ~ When it comes to adding life to your years, John Figliulo could be considered an expert. Born January 10, 1926, John celebrated his 97th birthday this past weekend with his wife of nearly eight years, Evelyn, his nine children and over 80 family, friends, and neighbors. Spend a little time with John and you will quickly see he has a lot of life to celebrate!

John, a World War II Army veteran, attributes his long life to good genes and a lifetime of activity. A former swimmer and an avid walker, in recent years John added bridge and cribbage to his never-ending list of pastimes. However, one of his most interesting hobbies is the rapidly growing sport of pickleball.

John was first introduced to pickleball 15 years ago, long before the sport became widely known. Spending summers in Colorado, he routinely walked six miles a day. During one of those walks he encountered a group of senior citizens playing a then unknown game on an abandoned ice rink. They introduced him to pickleball and, needing another player, invited him to join. In a short time, a new hobby was found! He played regularly, only temporarily pausing to care for his first wife during her illness. Later he picked up his racquet again and even helped introduce Evelyn, who had been a tennis player, to the sport.

As the popularity of pickleball has grown so has the competition, which they are perfectly content with.  In fact, truth be told, John doesn’t shy away from a little competition; although he does admit that he and Evelyn rarely play doubles together. Today you can find them and their fellow pickleball companions several times a week at various courts all over Rockwall.

At 97, John is going strong and always ready to introduce new people to pickleball. If you want to learn from our local pickleball pioneer just visit the nearest court and ask for “Old John”. Happy Birthday, John!

Story and photos by Melanie Mayfield, Blue Ribbon News contributing writer. 

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