MANKATO — Betsy and Earle Peters never set out to be crusaders, it's just kind of turned out that way.
The longtime residents, who raised two children in Mankato, are into everything that involves a racket. If it's a tennis match, they're there; If it's racquetball, Earle is probably not too far away. And, more recently, the husband-wife duo has gotten into pickleball.
Betsy is 67 and Earle is 72. Their passion for everything rackets started out as just that — a way to have fun together and exercise.
As they've gotten older, however, they've realized how important it is for seniors to stay active. Now they don't just participate, they also advocate.
"We're big advocates for senior recreation," Earle said. "Your quality of life is so much better when you are out doing things."
Betsy agrees: "People are living longer so it's important to stay healthy. We can't do what we did when we were 35, but we can still move around and exercise and have fun doing it."
Earle is a retired pharmacist in Mankato who is also an assistant coach with the East High School boys tennis program. Betsy had never played tennis before she met her husband-to-be in the late 1960s, but she picked it up in earnest around 10 years ago when the kids grew up and left home.
The local pickelball movement began about three years ago. Sandy Buckley and John Sandry were also advocates at the time and the foursome, along with others, began spreading the word and drumming up support for the sport.
A year ago the Mankato Area Pickleball Association was formed with Buckley as president. A few months ago the association went before the Mankato City Council and lobbied to turn the seldom-used Tourtellotte tennis courts into a pickleball facility. The council approved the plan.