Silver Paddles Interview

with Vern West

About Silver Paddles

Vern West sits down with USPPA Managing Director Bill Miller to discuss his
Silver Paddles project and the overall growth of pickleball as a sport.

Bill Miller: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Vern West: I’m a native Californian, born in Torrance. I’m going on 81. I started playing pickleball a year and a half ago. I can only play a couple of times a week because I’m still working full time as a tax consultant. I was a tennis player for over thirty years, but due to back surgery, and knee surgery, I can’t play tennis anymore. But pickleball has changed my life. I’ve met a lot of nice people and I’ve lost over twenty pounds since I started playing. My blood pressure has dropped and my back and knee pain is gone.

Bill Miller: Great! So where did you go to college?

Vern West: Fresno State. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Geology and one in Accounting.

Bill Miller: And where did your profession take you?

Vern West at Boys & Girls Club in San Clemente

Coach Raudel Barba, Vern West & USPPA Managing Director Bill Miller

Vern West: I was raised in Newhall. After college, I went to work for Los Angeles County Auditing Dept. I left there to work for a small accounting firm in Burbank and got my qualifying experience for my C.P.A. license. Eventually, I opened my own accounting practice in the San Fernando Valley. We had a get away at the Strand in Dana Pt. and liked it so much, we decided to move down here. We’ve lived here in San Clemente since 1981.

Bill Miller: And you married and had children?

Vern West: Yes, I’ve been married to the same beautiful woman for 60 years and she’s still in training. We have 3 daughters and 9 grandchildren.

Bill Miller: How often do you play pickleball?

Vern West: I try to play at least 2 times week.

Bill Miller: So, who was your coach and are you still being coached?

Vern West: My coach is Raudel Barba. I still take lessons. It reinforces everything you’re learning.

Bill Miller: Where do you play when you have the opportunity to just go out and play?

Vern West: I go to the San Clemente Boys and Girls club. Sometimes at San Gorgonio or San Luis Rey Park

Bill Miller: So you have this idea and this idea is, or a vision, called the Silver Paddles.

Vern West at Boys & Girls Club in San Clemente

Vern West:  Yes, it’s a vision. I was thinking about what I was going to after I retired. It’s my goal to get
seniors off the couch, and onto to the court, want them to have purpose each day, get some exercise and meet some great people.

Bill Miller:  And what would be the age range that you’re looking for?

Vern West: 65 and older. When I play with young people I know my timing and reactions are not as quick as theirs. It’s more fun to play with people around my age.

Bill Miller: How would a player 65 and older join this group?

Vern West: I’ll give my phone number to anyone who’s interested. I’d like to work with you Bill to get this organization going. I hope Raudel will start some lessons for seniors. It’s a different game for seniors, much slower, much softer. But we can learn about strategy to keep it interesting.

Bill Miller: Let’s talk a little more about it. Say someone hasn’t played an active sport for awhile. What would you recommend for them to do to prepare for their first day of pickleball?

Vern West: The first thing you have to do is decide to sign up for a class through the city. Do some exercises. Stretching is important. You don’t want to get to get hurt by falling or pulling a muscle. I’ve learned from experience to let the lobs go. I also think seniors should be allowed two serves. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to make the first serve count. The whole objective is to keep the game going. You get more exercise and have more fun.

Bill Miller: What about hydration?

Vern West: Have a light breakfast. Hydrate before you come to play. I usually eat a banana for potassium. Always bring two bottles of water and at every break, drink water. When you get home, drink a glass of orange juice or eat an orange to boost your vitamin C.

Bill Miller: Great! Just to close up, what phrase or quote would you want to be identified with Silver Paddles?

Vern West: I think every senior needs a purpose in life. Silver Paddles can be part of that. We love pickleball. Please come and join us! It’s fun. It’s addictive. Once you start you’ll want to play all the time.

[Contact Bill Miller if you are interested in joining the Silver Paddles group. His email is]

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