Gail Brown is no stranger to competing at the national level. She has golfed in the National Senior Games seven times over the past 20 years, winning her age group four times. She has also been to the nationals in basketball and table tennis, but didn't fare as well in those events as in golf. This year she will represent Florida in both golf and pickleball.
Brown, a Tanglewood resident, grew up in a town not far from Philadelphia where she and her brother excelled in sports. She pursued a career in teaching, spending 10 years at the junior high level, followed by 20 years teaching health and physical education to high schoolers.
Brown loved getting to know her students, getting into their lives and trying to help them in any way she could. The students liked that Brown was strict but fair.
Travel has taken Brown to Europe where she explored the continent for three months with her Eurailpass. She was on a brief teacher exchange to Japan and went to Nepal in an attempt to climb to the base camp of Mount Everest. Unfortunately, illness cut that once-in-a-lifetime experience short.
Brown has excelled at golf for many years. She played in the prestigious Harder Hall Women's Invitational for 23 years and has a second- and third-place finish to her credit. During this year's warm-up round for the Invitational, Brown had her first ever hole-in-one. She earned the right to represent Florida in golf at the National Senior Games by winning her age group in the Highlands County playoffs at River Greens Golf Club, then moving on to capture age group gold at the state games in Lakeland. Brown is disappointed that, with all of the golfers in the state, so few attempt to qualify for the Senior Games.
Brown retired in 1990 and started coming to her parents home in Sun 'n Lake in 1993. Having lived in Sun 'n Lake for many years, she learned of pickleball.
In 2008, Brown bought a house in Tanglewood, sight unseen, so that she could take up the sport which she modestly says she could play "half decently" at her age. As with all of her sporting activities, Brown is more than a half decent pickleball player.
As a pickleballer, Brown's favorite moments have come playing with fellow Tanglewooder Jimmy Maynard. Together they have won many gold medals and have a good shot at winning gold in the mixed doubles competition in Cleveland, Ohio, this summer in the 75-79 age group.
Brown will also be on the courts in Cleveland in the women's doubles but doesn't feel her chances of capturing first place will be as good. Her women's partner is younger; therefore, they must play in the 70-74 age bracket. No matter how they do, you can bet that Brown will give her opponents a great game.
Brown sees pickleball as a booming sport (the fastest growing sport in America) that is contagious. She sees people of all skill levels picking up the game and loving it. She knows that young people will take to the sport as well.
Brown will be one of about 13,000 seniors gathering in Cleveland to celebrate an active senior life style as they compete in 19 sports. Brown will be busy watching track and field and other sports, then she'll take to the golf course for the three-day tournament that runs from Wednesday through Friday. She will compete in women's doubles pickleball on Sunday, followed by mixed doubles.
Brown is a pretty open person. People know and love her for who she is. She is a great friend to many people and likes to treat people right. In turn, she expects others to do the same. Her friends in Tanglewood and across the country will be cheering her on as she competes in the National Senior Games once again.