Tyler Noel and Brandon Kirkley took to the court with long, luxurious hair on Saturday afternoon, bringing to mind the flowing locks of Bjorn Borg and Ilie Nastase.
Rather than international tennis heartthrobs, though, Noel and Kirkley are Grand Island police officers. They donned wigs to play in a celebrity pickleball tournament at the Veteran’s Sports Complex.
In a battle of first responders, Kirkley and Noel played Jeff Engberg and Nic Leiting of the Grand Island Fire Department. The match was part of a charity event that benefited the Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addictions (CNCAA).
None of the men had much experience at pickleball. Engberg and Leiting had a 90-minute lesson Monday with Nicole Durning of the CNCAA.
The police officers, meanwhile, watched a YouTube video. “You can learn anything from YouTube,” Noel said.
How long was the video? “I think it was a four-minute clip,” Noel said.
Before the game, Durning announced that the first responders were getting ready to play. The four players were new to the game, she said. “So let’s go make fun of them and have a great time.”
During the game, the men engaged in some gentle razzing. “Hey, you’d better get your glasses checked, old man,” Noel said to Engberg, who is 52.
The wind made it tough to whack the plastic ball at times. The sun also got in the players’ eyes.
But that was the extent of the adversity they faced, except for Kirkley’s black coiffure. “The hair got in my mouth a few times,” he said.
The Police Department won the match.
Which of the first responders stood out the most?
“If I go by the best dressed, it’d be Tyler. Athleticism, me,” said Engberg.
After the match, none of the guys seemed tired.
“I’m just hungry,” Noel said.
He planned on “going to eat a bunch of meat.”
Leiting, 36, joined the Fire Department earlier this year.
Noel, 33, is a school resource officer. Kirkley, 39, is an investigator. The spectators included his wife, newscaster Sara Kirkley, and their daughter, Grace, who’s just over a year old.
The tournament continues today.
Engberg, Noel and Kirkley are on the board of the CNCAA. The money raised this weekend goes to “an awesome cause,” Engberg said.
The CNCAA is such an “honorable organization” because it helps people in the area who struggle with addictions as well as their family members, Engberg said.
Those people can come to the CNCAA and get education, resources and information about where to find help, Engberg siad. The nonprofit organization also helps kids whose family members struggle with alcohol and other addictions.
Firefighters and EMTs often deal with the results of those addictions.
Firefighters and police officers responded Friday morning to a fentanyl overdose. Narcan was administered to save the man’s life.
Engberg gave primary credit to the man’s son, who found his father in bed and called 911.
Engberg, who’s been with the Fire Department 21 years, said, “We’ve never given as much Narcan as what we are these days. Times have changed.”
He praised CNCAA for helping families that deal with addiction.
The other celebrity game Saturday matched secondary vs. elementary educators.
The winners were Walnut Middle School art teacher Kyle Beaman and Calvin Hubbard, assistant principal at Grand Island Senior High.
But the real winner, Hubbard noted, was the CNCAA.
The men went up against Starr Elementary School Principal Selena Valentine and Jordyn Hubbard, the district’s special education supervisor.
Sponsors included Amur Equipment Financing, Grand Island Dermatology, Computer Concepts, Copycat Printing, Active Family Chiropractic and AR Photography.
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Original posted at theindependent.com