Softball league flourishing

Posted on 29 November 2012 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Ken Zeber has played in the Sunshine Seniors Softball League at the 4-Fields Complex in Pompano since 2003, and, despite having five bypasses 16 years ago, he still loves playing. Zeber, who will turn 69 in December and lives in Oakland Park, said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The best part is probably seeing guys older than me out there playing and getting exercise even though I still go to the gym,” Zeber said. “The bypasses came after being too active at night with my playing softball, coaching little league for my son, the wife and I were bowling and my daughter at dance. With all this activity, we ate (fast food) five nights a week and I believe that’s what caused them.”

The league recently concluded its summer season as Wally’s Raiders rallied for an 11-inning, 18-14 victory over the Reds in the championship game of the slow pitch summer league that plays on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the complex.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Bill Coyne, who retired from the Town of Davie three years ago where he was a police lieutenant. “There is great camaraderie and you meet a lot of people from all walks of life and areas.”

Coyne, 61, of Coral Springs, is also a member of the No Stars All-Star team that plays in the Florida Half Century Softball Association. They’ve won three tournaments in the 60s age group this season and they play once a month around the state. The Pompano Beachbased league has many travel team players still competing at the highest levels despite their ages.

“I see myself playing as long as I am healthy,” Coyne said. “We have some guys that play in the league that play well into their 80s and (play) at a good level. You forget that they are that old and still doing that.”

This is the 16th year of the Sunshine Seniors Softball League, which will have between four and six teams during the three seasons the league holds.

“It is the greatest thing in the world, especially for the ages of players that we have,” said Bart Grillo, 83, of Deerfield Beach, who serves as commissioner of the league. “I would say the majority of our guys, at least 50 percent of them, are over 70. They enjoy the game.”

Grillo, who hung up his cleats three years ago because of health issues, said he tries to downplay the competitive nature of the seniors.

The 55-and-older slow pitch softball league plays on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will play occasional tournaments on Saturdays at the 4-Fields complex in Pompano. Grillo said there are players who are involved in the Florida Half Century Amateur Softball Association that features tournaments around the state for seniors.

Grillo, who was inducted into the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame in January 2007, joked there is an age limit for his league. He credited the city of Pompano for its support and that the league has been able to succeed.

“You can play up to 100 if you can make it,” Grillo said with a laugh. “We have a dozen guys who are in their 80s. I would still be playing if I didn’t have a problem with my breathing. It is a lot of fun. It is enjoyment and something to do.”

For more information on the league, contact Grillo at 954- 421-6892.

Youth soccer registration

The city of Pompano is currently taking registrations for its youth soccer program. Registration began on Nov. 5 and the program begins on Dec. 17, for players ages 5-7 and 11-13 (Monday & Wednesday); Dec. 18, for players ages 8-10 (Tuesday & Thursday). Cost is $54 for residents and $110 for non-residents.

It is an opportunity to experience a great program that offers the fundamentals and skills in the sport of soccer. The city will be hosting evaluations for ages 8 and up to determine team assignments. For more information, call 954-786-4119.

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