Her friends at Udall Park joke that Julie Creveling is a pickleball prodigy, as she is 82 years young.

Creveling moved to Tucson from Oklahoma and taught at Dietz Elementary school for 35 years. A tennis and golf player, pickleball is a way for her to stay on the court longer following hip surgery.

“There are a couple of girls I play with that asked if their Mom could come out and play and I said yes,” said Creveling.

Creveling isn’t just a pickleball player. She’s actually a coach, and on this day, she was instructing a woman one generation younger.

“She’s helping to spread pickleball,” said friend Randolyn Keyes. “She shows patience, kindness, and positive reinforcement.”

There was a coaching need for beginners, which make up the bulk of Creveling’s students.

“The goal is to get them to a game,” said Creveling.

“Everybody loves Julie, Said Keyes. “Everybody knows Julie.”

That affection was on display earlier this week when the pickleball community surprised her with a party on her 82nd birthday.

“It was overwhelming,” said Creveling.

Creveling’s message is that pickleball is a social sport that can be learned, or even taught, at any age.