Katherine Jeanne Manousos ’63, a graduate alumna of the 1963 class of elementary education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML), now enjoys playing pickleball on Sunday mornings at the same campus where she earned her degree six decades ago.
Joining her on the court at the Campus Recreation Center are her daughter, Julie Petros, an alumna in biological sciences, and her grandson, Ben Petros, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering.
A Deep Affinity
Manousos, now 82, expresses a deep affinity for the institution where she spent 27 years of her career after graduating from Lowell State Teachers College, stating, “I feel like I’ve lived here all my life. I just love this school.”
This reflects a broader trend at UMass Lowell, where individuals of various ages and skill levels engage in pickleball on Sunday mornings. The Campus Recreation also hosts intramural leagues and tournaments, a testament to the sport’s popularity.
As part of this year’s Homecoming festivities, UML will be hosting its inaugural Homecoming Slam Pickleball Tournament on Saturday, November 4, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Campus Recreation Center.
Nearly 100 players, including Manousos and her daughter, have registered for the tournament, with proceeds allocated towards the maintenance of the recreation center.
The event invites students, faculty, staff, alums, and friends, offering giveaways, raffles, and concessions, including egg rolls, bubble tea, and banana leaf-wrapped sweet sticky rice from the Burmese community.
Unofficial Pickleball Ambassador
Tournament organizer Mai Nguyen, the university’s registrar, also serves as an unofficial pickleball ambassador and shares her enthusiasm for the sport: “It should be a fun day.”
Manousos, who has known Nguyen from earlier collaborations, reminisces about their history, dating back to her time at the former College of Science and Health Professions: “She loves the sport. It’s funny how it worked out.”
Hailing from Haverhill, Massachusetts, Manousos and her late husband, Charles Manousos, met at Lowell State Teachers College.
Their marriage led them to Lowell, where they raised a family, all of whom became River Hawk alums. Julie’s brother, Peter Manousos, studied meteorology, while her sister, Stephanie, pursued a degree in criminal justice.
Despite retiring from UML in 2010, Manousos didn’t find out about pickleball until a friend introduced her to the sport on outdoor courts in Andover, Massachusetts, four years ago.
The Outdoor Aspect Of The Game
Manousos appreciates the outdoor aspect of the game, aligning with her enjoyment of activities like walking, biking, snowshoeing, bocce, and bowling, emphasizing the importance of staying active.
Julie, an ardent tennis player, soon took to pickleball and suggested joining the Sunday morning drop-in games at UML, where Ben could participate as well.
Julie finds joy in spending quality time with her mother, praising the warm reception from the community and the pleasure of learning something new.
For Ben, a member of the UML tennis club, the shared experience on Sunday mornings at the rec center holds a special significance.
On the court, Manousos displays reflexes that rival players much younger and says of the sport, “It is the best thing, it really is. Having the family together here; it makes me feel good.”
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