It’s a chilly morning in early January. As the sun begins to peek above the horizon with its warming rays; a small group of retired men and women gather and begin stretching. Slowly at first, they stretch – soaking in the ever-warming rays of sunshine and shaking off the desert’s cold night air. There are winces and groans as joints begin to loosen in the crisp morning air. They are all wearing brightly colored shirts with names of local businesses emblazoned across their chests. Suddenly a “pop” sound echoes through the air as a ball lands in the pocket of a glove. More follow and soon a chorus of “pops” are filling the area. As the dew fades across the fresh cut grass, a single person strides to a small white rectangle plate and yells out, “Play Ball.” It’s time for Senior Softball!
Never heard of Senior Softball? Well, over 1.5 million men and women (Age 55+) currently play the sport and Sun City has several leagues. Most of us fondly remember our youth where we played softball or baseball. But then careers, marriage, and children put the game we loved on the back burner. Now, in retirement, many senior adults are returning to the game they loved in their youth. There is something special about playing a team sport at a later age in life. Not only does it provides a way to stay physically fit, it provides an opportunity to develop new friends and a whole new peer group.
For Club Connect member and future Inspirata Pointe resident Emil Calleja, that statement rings true. Emil had never played softball and his career as a corporate tax manager kept him very busy. The base path took a back seat to a career path. When he retired in 2013 to Sun City West, he hadn’t thought about ever playing softball. He was not some muscle bound ex-athlete trying to relive his glory days. He was just a normal everyday guy that loved softball and wanted to see if he could still play it. He soon found the Sun City Senior Softball leagues. Here men and women (some in their 80’s) gather to enjoy life on a ball field once again. All players are ranked according to ability and teams are built so they can be competitive in the league. After a couple of years of playing, Emil wanted to take the next step and manage a team. Royal Oaks has been a team sponsor in the Sun City leagues for years and Emil asked if he could manage the team of the sponsor that would be his future home. He selected his players well and on that chilly morning in January, Royal Oaks defeated Larry Ott Realty 6 to 4 to notch their 15th win of the season and secure the league championship. Not too bad for a first time manager. After the game, there were handshakes all around and a little bit of sadness. The draft for the next season was scheduled for later in the week and it would be unlikely Emil could select all the same guys again. Next season would have some new faces but the friendships formed in this season will continue even when those friends are now on opposing teams. Oliver Wendell Holmes said “People don’t quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” Emil and all the rest of the Sun City Senior Softball players don’t plan on growing old anytime soon!
If you would like to meet people like Emil and find out why we has already chosen his home at Inspirata Pointe, we invite you to make an appointment to visit our Information Center, where our new neighborhood is showcased through digital technology. You’ll feel like you are exploring an already-built place! Call 623-815-4274 or visit www.InspirataPointe.com