NPA NEWSLETTER / WINTER 2003-2004

NPA, 7642 Kingston, Portage, Mich. 49002

Paddleball Nation
puts on a great
show in 2003

Eight-month-old Sydnie Schafer had a special interest in this match at the Fall Doubles in December at Western Michigan University. See Page 7 for what it was.

By Lou Giampetroni

Well, it's been a whirlwind year for paddleball as the Paddleball Nation -- a group of West Coast paddleballers -- put on a noteworthy show.

Paddleball with the regular "black ball" and paddleball with the "green ball" -- a racquetball -- were featured at tournaments in Las Vegas, Portland, Ore., St. Louis and Riverside, Calif.

They started in May and ended in late Fall -- generally the off-season for most Midwest paddleballers, many of whom put down their paddles in April and don't pick them up again until November

 

Please see NATION, Page 3

Paddleballer contemplated some more important issues

By Lou Giampetroni

Now is the time for all good men and women to think about the really important things in life.

Let me present some comments by the late Rev. Walter L. Taylor, of Flint, Mich. -- a paddleballer until the very end.

He had inoperable lung cancer and died on October 22, 1977, at the age of 71.

Known for his reworking and decorating of paddles, some of which are still around, he continued to play PB in the courts of the Flint YMCA until just weeks before his death.

He was the first recipient of the Earl Riskey Memorial Trophy, in 1977, for his contributions to the sport of paddleball.

He typed a few pages as the end neared. These are some of his comments:

"It puts you on a toboggan going down a slide into a certain crash."

"It casts you out of an airplane with a defective parachute that will not open."

"It immerses you in quicksand with no one to help."

"It is listening to the Christmas carols and reveling in the beauty of the season and wondering, 'Will this Christmas be my last?'"

"It is to be flooded with cards, flowers, gifts and good wishes."

"It is to have groups of friends and churches to pray for your recovery."

"It is to study the life beyond life with a new and fresh concern."

Page 3

Gladding

gets nod as

Pig Roast

honoree

Gladding

Chuck Gladding was the 2003 Pig Roast honoree in Kalamazoo, Mich. The person selected is recognized for his or her contributions to the sport of paddleball. At left, Gladding does his best to eat an eye of the pig. He says he followed the time-honored tradition.


DIAPER DANDIES Remember that diaper commercial on TV where a company's product was tested for moisture? Well, it was done in the Flint, Mich., YMCA in the mid-1970s, too, with paddleballers as the "models." Applying the water is Harold Branstner (right), the 1974 national masters singles champion. The photographer knows who the trio is (are?) but he was sworn to secrecy immediately.


Happy Birthday!

NATION

Continued from Page 1

or December.

Playing in just about all of the tourneys were NPA national singles champion Mike Wisniewski and long-time national doubles winner Andy Mitchell.

And they didn't win very often.

"They have got some very good players out there," said Mitchell. "Some of them really hammer the ball."

Wisniewski agreed,

 

and added that the West Coasters did not see hinder calls the same way they are played in the Midwest.

"We couldn't convince them about hinder calls," he said. "Some of their calls were very strange.

"We felt we were giving them room to shoot and they called hinders."

Wisniewski said he had a very good time in the tournaments and looks forward to playing against some of the West Coasters who said they plan to play in the NPA national singles and doubles this season.

 

 

 

Ann Arbor, Mich. -- The Old IM Building at the University of Michigan had its 75th birthday on Oct. 18, 2003.

The 14 courts in the venerable, old structure saw some of the finest paddleballers sprint around during a half-dozen National Championships over the years.

Properly called the Intramural Sports Building (IMSB), it was the forerunner of all campus recreational centers in the country.

It is at 606 E. Hoover St.

It was the dream of Dr. Elmer B. Mitchell, the building's principal planner, that it "would provide a place where a thousand students can enter daily to congregate and to mix their exercise with sociability."

Work is under way for much remodeling, including a weight room, a climbing wall, new locker facilities, a very modern front entry desk and other features.

Page 4

Paddleball Profile

few divisions."

He reached the National Doubles open final four times in 1985 with Kevin McCully, and in 1990, 1991 and 1995 with Jim Sterken but lost all four.

But Swendris and Sterken found some solace in 2002 when they paired

to win the National Doubles SENIORS and MASTERS championships.

Swendris also won the 2002 National Singles seniors title for players at least 35.

He has played in many other tournaments and fared quite well.

"It's a fun game to play," he said, "and it's great workout and great people."

Any suggestions?

"Somehow, more people," he said. "Tourneys are run very well. We just need some youngsters to start playing."

Jim Swendris

In 1974, Jim Swendris had a liking for racquet games so he thought he would give paddleball a try.

Swendris, an accountant from Ann Arbor, Mich., went on to play the game in earnest for nearly 30 years.

And, as they say in Kalamazoo, the guy has been pretty decent.

Swendris was asked in a questionnaire to "list any titles or high finishes in your years of competition."

Swendris wrote: "Finalist a few times in a

NO KIDDING -- It's hard to believe but Steve Wilson turned 50 on Oct. 15, 2003. There was a party and, naturally, several paddleballers were there. The top photo shows Wilson (center) with his son, Troy, and daughter, Erin. Also there were Anna Sue Thomas (left in the photo below) and her sister, Carla Teare, along with Lou Giampetroni. Wilson, of Flint, Mich., won four NPA national open singles titles in the early 1980s and a national open doubles crown in 1982.


Ho hum, Grambeau wins Ludlow again

2003 Fall Doubles Results

OPEN: 1st -- Andy Mitchell/Don Kirkconnell; 2nd -- Mike Wisniewski/Scott Wittbrodt.

MEN'S B: 1st -- Ted Wray/Robert Stone; 2nd -- Jim Richter/Jack Barenfanger. Consolation: Bob McLean/Paul Chritz.

MEN'S C: 1st -- Randy Allar/Dick Brouwer; 2nd -- Jody Henning/Gary Levandoski.

SENIORS: 1st -- Ron Malecki/Mike Schafer; 2nd -- Mike Wisniewski/Dennis Negrete, Bloomingdale, Ill.

MASTERS: 1st -- Ron Malecki/Mike Schafer; 2nd -- Jim Owens/Brad Ex; 3rd -- Dave Hale/Dan Snedcor. Consolation -- Rick Clewis/Rick Mountain.

GOLDEN MASTERS: 1st -- Mark Hector/David Coffey, Knoxville, TN; 2nd -- George Miller/Rick Mahoney.

Grambeau

 
 

 
Paddleballer set to assist
relief-work group in Haiti

Eight-month-old Sydnie Schafer has a ringside seat for a match involving her father, Mike, of Midland, Mich., at the Fall Doubles at Western Michigan University on Dec. 7, 2003. That's Mike with his back to the wall. Making Sydnie as comfortable as possible is her mother, Kim.

 

"I worked construction during my summer vacations and earned a `hard worker' reputation, which has stayed with me through the years."

Wackerle said his church recently observed 100 years of service in the Bay City area.

There are about 80 Apostolic Christian churches in 20 states, he said.

"The organization that I'm involved with is called the World Relief Work Team," he said. "We will be working on a school in Les Cayes, Haiti."

Haiti sits between Cuba and Jamaica, and shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

"I will take my hammer, camera and a paddle and see what happens," he said.

"My wife (Jane) is nervous about the trip and worries about me falling off a school roof or something ... and needing blood.

"The world's poorest country sounds like a new challenge to me."

 

Paddleball in Haiti?

It's possible as Randy Wackerle, one of the strongest supporters of indoor, four-wall paddleball, prepares for a trip in February 2004 to the country in the West Indies.

For the last five years, his church -- the Apostolic


Christian
Church of
Bay City,
Mich. --
has sent
members to
the moun
ains of
Haiti to

Wackerle


   


2003-2004 NPA Schedule

STATE SINGLES, Jan. 16, 17, 18,
Jackson, MI., YMCA
 
STATE DOUBLES, Feb. 13, 14, 15,
Michigan Athletic Club, E. Lansing, MI.
 
NATIONAL SINGLES, March 19, 20, 21,
One-On-One Club, Ann Arbor, Mich.
 
NATIONAL DOUBLES, April 23, 24, 25,
Bloomingdale, Ill., Athletic Club.

work on schools.

Recently retired after 32 years working with 6th-, 7th- and 8th-graders in the Bay City Schools, Wackerle decided to join the group this time because he was unable to go previously.

"I said, `O.K., introduce me to the world's largest toads and spiders,'" Wackerle said.

"I plan to continue the junior paddleball program, which will start its 28th year, and I'm looking forward to February and the 10-day trip to Haiti.


PB tournament
honors Piechowiak

Bay City, Mich. -- The Bay Area Family Y held the 35th blind draw Turkey Paddleball Tournament in November 2003.

It was held in memory of the late Mark Piechowiak, a six-time champion of the event.

Piechowiak, winner of the NPA national singles and seniors titles in 1995, died on June 29, 2003, after a massive heart attack. He was 47.

Teams from Bay City, Midland and Lansing showed their support for the family in the tournament.

Ron Malecki of Midland and John Lowman of Lansing topped Randy Wackerle and Al Zawilinski, both of Bay City, 21-20, in the final.

Mike Wisniewski of Bay City and Paul Chritz of Midland took third.

Referees to be used again

The NPA has decided to reinstitute the policy of having referees at tournaments.

Board members believe it will be helpful in the operation of tourneys.

During this season, referees will be used from semifinals on and in all round-robin competition -- and at the request of any player.

Refs were not used in the first tournament at Western Michigan University because of the difficulty created by the courts having floor-to-ceiling glass back walls.

Gen. Patton exhorted the paddleball troops

By LOU GIAMPETRONI

Remember the movie "Patton"?

And the very memorable scene that opens the film and has George C. Scott, as the famous World War II general, addressing his troops standing in front of him before they go into battle?

He praises them, he exhorts them, he tells them that they can do what they have to do.

About 20 years ago, I did a voice-over of that scene for a funny film on paddleball.

The following is the dialogue I substituted as I spoke "at an NPA membership meeting" with a large group of players in my make-believe audience.

THE GENERAL thrust of my message was peppered with references to paddleball (It helps if you visualize the deep-sounding voice of Scott/Patton.):

"Be seated. My name is Lou Giampetroni. I'm the secretary-treasurer of the National Paddleball Association.

"Now some people might think it's strange. But I love paddleball. I eat, sleep and drink paddleball. Paddleball is my wife, it's my mistress. It's my reason for being! Paddleball is a great game. It's the only game.

"Now you've read about racquetball and handball and squash and how good those games are. That's a lot of horse dung.

"Paddleball is by far the greatest game. Real Americans love the enjoyment and excitement of paddleball. When we were kids, we all admired Earl Riskey and Rod Grambeau and some of the great players of their day.

"True Americans love to play paddleball. They will not tolerate any other so-called court game.

"PADDLEBALL teaches you sportsmanship, honor and respect for your opponent. Now I'm speaking as a doubles player because that's how I started the game. As a doubles player.

"Now a doubles team has to play as a team. It lives, eats, sleeps and plays as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap.

 

 

"The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for some of the sports magazines don't know anything about real paddleball than they do about fornicating.

"Now we have the finest paddles and balls, the best players in the world and we've got a great program going.

"Now some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll panic in your first tournament match. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all perform very well.

"Just remember this: Your opponents are the enemy. Wade into them, lob them, bombard them with kill shots, watch for the sneaky dinks in the corners that those sissy masters players hit all the time. Be careful.

"NOW THERE'S another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages that someone in a tournament is wearing long pants or that a player is using a paddle with a metal rim or that Barry Lucas is taking your shots away from you by crowding.

"Play hard and play tough. Hold onto your opponent by the nose, kick him in the ass, kick hell out of him all the time. Go through him like crap through a goose.

"All right, you sons of bitches. You know how I feel. ... Oh, one more thing.

"I will be proud to play the left side with any one of you wonderful guys ... Anytime ... Anywhere. That's all."