Danna Garland's softball days may be over, but her pickleball days have just begun.

Garland has played pickleball for just more than a year, but has embraced the sport to the point that she has become a local ambassador and promotes pickleball throughout the Crossroads. She and about 15 others signed up with Victoria College's Academy of Lifelong Learning to play the sport twice a week at VC's Sports Center.

"Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., especially among our senior population," Garland said. "What makes it so popular is that it can be learned and played by people of all ages."

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.

"It burns calories, and you get your heart rate at a healthy level," Garland said. "You go backward, forward and side to side. It's also very beneficial socially."

Paul Hamilton is a regular at the pickleball gatherings each Monday and Friday at VC. He grew to appreciate the sport when one of pickleball's local pioneers, Maureen Armstrong, taught him some of the secrets of the game about three years ago.

"She introduced me to the sport and showed me how to serve and some other things," Hamilton said.

The Academy of Lifelong Learning began offering pickleball in 2016. The group plays at Victoria College's Sports Center from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. each Monday and Friday. Annual memberships to the academy cost $50 and can be used for a variety of events and activities.

For more information on Victoria College's Academy of Lifelong Learning, call 361-582-2426 or email Erin.McKenzie@VictoriaCollege.edu.

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