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Meet the "O.G." of Pickleball who has so many medals and awards she can't keep track: Joyce Jones

A graphic that has a medal and pickleball graphic, Because Market logo, and picture of Joyce Jones.

Kara Miller |

Because Market is proud to be sponsoring six incredible women at this year's National Senior Athletic Games organized by the National Senior Games Association (NSGA). These extraordinary women are changing the narrative on what's possible for athletes over 60. Pushing back against stereotypes of the limits aging bodies face, these women take back their autonomy, health, and happiness as they Live Life Fully.


We sat down with Joyce Jones to discuss playing pickleball with the founder, Joel Prichard, her lifelong rivalry with her late husband, and what she thinks about the current pickleball craze.


Joyce Jones stands on the podium after winning the 75 singles in the pickleball nationals in 2019.

Joyce celebrating after winning gold in the 75 Singles at the 2019 Pickleball National Tournament.


What do you think of the pickleball craze hitting the nation these days?



How did you hear about pickleball when you first started playing? Tell us the story of how you met your husband and how he introduced you to the world of racket sports.

I met my husband rollerskating, and then I found out that he played badminton. He grew up playing with Joel Prichard, so that's how we got introduced to pickleball when Joel invented it. Anyway, I was only 15, but I could beat anyone. When I found out that he played, I challenged him to a match. Not only did I not get a point, but I didn't even get to serve the bird because he won the toss and served 15 straight points. We got married two and a half years later.


Over the years, I tried beating him at other sports, but he always won. About 30 years ago, he got an infected kidney and had to have it removed. I decided if I was ever going to beat him at anything, it's after he’s just had major surgery. So we went out on the tennis court and played for an hour. I finally sat down in the court and said, okay, done. I give. I never did get to beat him in anything.


Joyce Jones poses with the 5 gold medals she won during the 2015 National Senior Olympics.



Do you have a favorite memory from your early days of playing pickleball?

I have one experience that I was very happy about. We were moving from a condo into independent living, and we had to really cut down on everything we owned. I had two apple boxes full of medals that I had won, but there was no room for them when we were moving. I had a pickleball friend who put on children's pickleball tournaments, and he asked me if I had any generic medals. I found him around 90 medals, and he was very pleased with those for his junior tournament program.


And in the bottom of one of the apple boxes, down in the corner, was a little square box. In beautiful calligraphy, it said 1978 badminton nationals in San Diego, California. Inside there were four thin, round pieces of what looked like gold. My son said they might be worth something, so he took them to a jeweler. And it turned out that they were worth $410. And if I hadn't gone through the boxes of medals for my friend, I never would have known that that little box was down there in the bottom. So I was happy I did a favor for my friend.


Joyce goes for a shot at the 2023 National Senior Athletic Games.

Joyce goes for a shot at the net during the 2023 National Senior Athletic Games.


What do you do during the week to stay active?

Up until two years ago, I played badminton, and up until last year, I played tennis—plus my pickleball all the time. I played something just about every day. Now that I'm only playing pickleball, I should be training, but I'm not. I manage a store at our independent living facility twice a week, and I direct a sing-along group. But I don't do any sports other than playing pickleball two or three times a week.


Joyce Jones poses with the 8 medals she won in the Huntsman World Games.

Joyce poses with the 8 medals she won in the Huntsman World Games.



What sense of community have you gotten from playing sports and being part of the NSGA?




Over 50% of women experience bladder leaks, yet it’s a stigmatized topic that people tend to shy away from. What advice would you have for them?

I don't have that problem yet. I eventually will, I'm sure. But the only advice I can give them is to wear pads and just keep playing as long as possible.



What advice do you have for your peers who are looking to get active?



Do you have a goal that drives you to keep playing?


Click here to check out our last interview with MS survivor and track and field athlete Eleanor Pendergraft!