2019 Minto US Open Championships Women’s Doubles,
5.0, 19-49, Semi-Final Match. (Photo sent in by Julie Manuel)
Pickleball has become a popular sport among young and old. The game allows anyone with a knee, hip replacement to a pacemaker to be able to get out and enjoy an easy or a competitive game of pickleball. Meet Julie Manuel, a Pro Pickleball player you can watch in the 2019 Minto US Open Championships Women’s Doubles, 5.0, 19-49, Semi-Final Match. If the commentator had not revealed that Julie was out on the courts playing with a pacemaker at a high level of pickleball, I would have never guessed. The match on the link below is Julie and her partner Beth Merchant playing against Anna Leigh Waters and Staci Townsend. Impressive and inspirational, Julie gives us all hope that whatever any one of us may be battling, we too can be overcomers. Read the interview here.
Julie, what an inspiration you are! It is the month of February, Heart Health month. You play high level pro pickleball 5.0, with a pacemaker. I would have never known by watching you play. Would you like to share more on your experience playing pickleball with our readers? For example, how long have you been playing, how you were introduced to the game and when did your pacemaker come into play?
I started playing pickleball in late fall, 2016, after recovering from a knee replacement surgery which was my fifth surgery following a terrible snow skiing accident in 2013. I was rehabbing in Florida with friends and was introduced to the game of pickleball I couldn’t be more thankful today that I didn’t just brush off the invitation to “grab a paddle and try it!”
My pacemaker was a complete surprise to me in 2009! I’ve been a lifelong athlete – playing college basketball and training relentlessly to stay at the top of my game. However, I started passing out in college frequently, and medical professionals struggled to determine a correct diagnosis for several years. In 2009, I had become pretty sick and was passing out even more frequently and my significant other (at the time) was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Following a Tilt Table test, it was determined I had a very severe case of Neurocardiogenic Syncope. Essentially, in my case, when my vagus nerve became overstimulated, my heart stopped to reset the nerve, causing the ‘passing out’ episodes. My pacemaker was inserted October 12, 2009, and I’ve had to adapt to my new reality. I still have symptoms and will occasionally pass out – but the comforting and good news is my heart won’t stop because of the miracle of the pacemaker!
How do you prepare yourself for a big pickleball tournament like the one against Anna Leigh Waters and Staci Townsend, physically and mentally? Do you eat certain foods? Did you and Beth have a plan and strategy going into the game?
I prepare for every tournament the same as I did when I was in college playing basketball. I typically take a short jog with music to focus myself and get in the present. I like to review with my partner what we know about the team we are playing and remind each other to have fun but always ‘leave it all on the court.’ I will eat some long-lasting carbs – like steel cut oatmeal, but more than likely it’s just eggs and almond flour toast for me! Our specific plan for the match against Anna Leigh and Staci was to keep the ball soft and try to reset as much as possible. As with any match – our game plan shifted as we settled in and points played out.
What is your profession?
For my day job – I’m a Psychotherapist at Kettering Health Network in the Greater Dayton area. I manage the Psychiatric Programming for Outpatient and Inpatient Behavioral Health Programs.
Do you have someone in your life that has been a inspiration to you? Who and Why?
There are a lot of people that inspire me daily, but the one that stands out is my wife April. She never gave up before the pacemaker and kept reminding me of the bigger things God had planned for me – her positive attitude and tenacity always encourage me to never give up.
Any hobbies outside of pickleball?
I love to trail run and we love to travel the country in our RV.
Do you have any pets?
We have a 13 y.o. Weimaraner, named Mr. Winston Marmaduke, and an 8 y.o. Min Pin, named Ginger Roo.
What is your favorite quote or perhaps words of wisdom you would like to share with our readers.
Don’t Quit Never Ever Give Up. Regardless of how bleak the outlook, there is always something to be grateful for.
Arnold Classic 2020 in Columbus OH. All photos sent in by Julie Manuel
Thank you Julie, for taking time out of your busy schedule to interview for our newsletter. Come play pickleball with us if you ever visit Port Townsend WA. Stay strong and pickle on!
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