HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – This weekend 30 teams competed in the International Senior Softball Association here in Huntsville. When you hear “Seniors” you might think of a High School athlete, but you would be mistaken.
Players from ages 50 plus showed this weekend that they can still play just as well as the youngins. The ISSA has been providing seniors an active lifestyle since 1994 and five years ago it made it to Huntsville. This weekend players played in The Rocket City National Spring Tournament.
George Thomas, Deputy Executive Director with ISSA said all those who participated, were playing for a chance to advance, “The championships get a ring and qualify for a tournament of champions in Tampa, Florida in January.”
Thomas says even with the pandemic, players were able to stay active. Although many players practiced on their own in their home states, they didn’t let that stop them from playing.
“I mean the seniors have stayed very active, especially in our program, it’s softball since COVID-19 hit,” and with accommodations being made they still saw a good turnout, “We’re providing recreation and they’re outside, it’s safe and they don’t feel threatened.”
With restrictions starting to lift and more vaccines doses being distributed, Thomas says it’s looking even more promising, “I think the numbers will increase dramatically when everybody starts getting their shots.”
The association stopped doing things like sharing water in the dugout, handshaking, and group check-ins to eliminate anything that would encourage gatherings. Players were still excited to see their teammates and play.
Jim Myers, who’s a pitcher for The Travelers has been participating in the tournaments for 20 years, he says being here with his teammates was better than a grand slam, “We’re able to get out and get the exercise and all the camaraderie we miss. It’s just like the school kids, they’re missing their school mates and we’re missing our teammates and our oppositions.”
The Travelers finished with a National Championship ring, that makes number 54 for Myers, with a big smile he said “I started at 55 and most of the tournaments now start at 50 now I’ve got 54 national championships.”
Myers says with programs like the ISSA, they have kept him healthy and young and with so many rings, he’s not stopping anytime soon, “my wife says I’ll probably play into my 80’s.”
Looking back on everything Myers says his favorite part, “Getting together with all the teammates and opponents in the middle of the field and praying together, giving all glory to God, because without him, we wouldn’t be playing.”
The next tournament will be in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from March 16-21.