As we have read over the last few days, the 2023 Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championships powered by Invited and the PPA Tour has seen a wide variety of participants with intriguing and heartwarming stories.
The mother-and-daughter duo Angie and Ella Cosma out of Washington state, for example, only started playing the sport in June of last year.
Ella Cosma, age 14, told Stephen Hunt of Red Line Editorial, “It’s cool to see how big this event is because pickleball started small where we’re from. To see so many people come together is cool.”
The event, hosted at Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Dallas, marks the Cosmas’ second trip this year to Texas for pickleball. In June, they traveled to a tournament in the Lone Star State with only modest expectations.
Angie Cosma recalled, “It was more like, ‘Let’s play this cool tournament, have fun, and see.’ It’s neat looking back on our journey and to be at the biggest pickleball event in the world.
“We look forward to the next few days here, being able to play and experience everything.”
The Cosmas’ rapid progress in national competition within a year of taking up pickleball is indeed noteworthy. However, their journey to the sport carries an inspiring narrative.
At the age of 12, Ella Cosma faced multiple medical conditions affecting her digestive system and leading to extended hospital stays. Following successful surgeries, her condition improved after being fitted with an ileostomy bag.
In parallel, Angie Cosma, a former college tennis player, grappled with an autoimmune disorder causing fatigue and lethargy.
Playing pickleball together has become a pivotal aspect of their healthy lifestyle, strengthening their bond. They chronicle this shared experience on their Instagram page, @Ella.Angie.Pickle.
Angie Cosma reflected, “I play different hats with Ella. I can be her best friend, mom, supporter, and coach.” She added, “It’s been a nice added part of our relationship that was very unexpected. This is not anything I ever expected, being able to play together, let alone compete at this level.
“It’s also an analogy for life. The court is much like life, where you get through the lows together, the tough times, the good times; you experience it all, and the whole thing is a gift.
“It’s an amazing experience. I feel like this is just the first present you get to open on Christmas, and there’s so much more.”
A Chance Encounter
Although the Cosmas may not view themselves as inspirational, a chance encounter on a court in Washington revealed the significant impact they had on a fellow player facing medical challenges.
This encounter led to providing crucial support to a young mother who was soon to undergo ileostomy surgery due to colon cancer. Ella Cosma shared her own experiences and offered reassurance.
Reflecting on this, Ella Cosma remarked, “She was worried about what the procedure would look like, so I talked to her, told her how it was for me, and said that we’ll be there if she needs any help or support.”
She added, “During her recovery, we were checking on her. She’s doing well. She’s been sending a lot of pictures with her family and seems very happy.”
For Angie, knowing the positive impact they had on this father and daughter, largely due to pickleball and their Instagram page, adds a deeper sense of purpose to their journey.
“I would love to inspire others and hope that we can and do,” Angie Cosma said. “He (the father) said it was really touching being able to talk to us. It’s little things like that which bring us happiness in it. That makes it not just a sport.”
While the Cosmas may not see themselves as inspirations to fellow pickleball players, Dalton Hess, a friend of theirs and fellow Evergreen State native from Mukilteo, competing at nationals, holds a different view.
“They sort of came out of nowhere. I saw them start showing up at the local courts,” Hess observed. “They started out as average beginner players with a little bit of tennis background, but you could tell they were going to go places if they put in the effort.
“To get where they’ve come in less than a year’s time through their dedication and practice has been incredible.”
Social Aspect Of Pickleball
Like many enthusiasts of the sport, the Cosmas value the social aspect of pickleball, forming connections with players of diverse ages and skill levels.
Furthermore, the sport has provided an added benefit for the younger Cosma. Ella Cosma explained, “We’ve always been close. Pickleball brought us closer together.
“When we’re going through a tough time or down in a match, we talk and bond through that. We’ve always talked about everything together.
“This gave us a passion that we can share together. To be able to compete with my mom is really amazing.”
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