Selkirk Advocate enjoys bucking the odds on the pickleball court
When Petey Bruce was a child, his parents taught him a lesson: Never let your abilities keep you from your potential.
Petey was born with no hands and one leg but has never let that get in the way of doing the activities he enjoys, including playing football, running 5Ks, and rocking out on the drums.
So, when Petey heard about pickleball from a few of his friends, he immediately wanted to try it out, but he knew he would have to make a few adjustments.
When playing the drums, Petey uses arm straps to hold his sticks. Using a similar armband, Petey secures his preferred paddle, the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air, to his dominant arm.
Although he says he doesn’t have as great a reach as some players, Petey dominates the court with his speed, shot placement, and unyielding determination, often outperforming opponents of all skill levels.
Petey has only been playing for six months, but he says he’s addicted to the sport and plays nearly every day.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to pickleball,” Petey says. “How big do you want the sky to be? Do you want to play to a certain level, or do you want to study the sport to learn more techniques, abilities, and levels? With most sports, once you reach a certain age you say you can't do it anymore because you might get hurt or not move as well. Pickleball has some limits in that regard, but not as much.”
Petey’s passion is not only a testament to the sport's accessibility but also to his upbringing. Originally born in the Philippines, Petey was adopted when he was 5 years old. His parents adopted a total of 10 children with limitations.
From his family, Petey learned the invaluable lesson of never backing down and never letting physical limitations stand in the way of realizing one's potential. It's this mindset that has propelled him to excel in life and on the pickleball court.
"My parents used to always say, ‘If you're going to tell us you can't, you need to prove it,’" Petey says. “I can go through my situation and still reach my potential. That quote from my parents is always in the back of my head.”
Throughout his years, Petey has developed a no-quit attitude, which is why he regularly plays on the advanced courts in his hometown of Orlando, Florida. He says he doesn’t want to play with people who coddle or take it easy on him — he wants to play the naysayers and haters.
“They have to put their money where their mouth is,” Petey says. “If you want to treat me differently, you have to play with me because I'm going to ace you with my hardest serve and watch your face change from taking it easy to realizing I'm not an easy matchup.
“You're always going to have naysayers or people who have a prideful arrogance. All I try to do is humble them and let them know they can't judge a person by what they see. I've been whooped by 90-year-olds in the same way,” he jokes.
Sharing Selkirk’s passion for the community and for growing the sport of pickleball, Petey is an indomitable member of the Selkirk Advocate team. Now, he wants to get more people involved with the sport and the community it provides.
"If it weren't for the opportunities through pickleball and its community, I don't think I would be here living in Florida, and I don't think I'd be reaching my full potential when it comes to challenging myself, traveling, and accomplishing goals," he says.