RANDOLPH, NJ- Three Randolph residents who play for a local senior league softball team, the New Jersey Diehards, participated in the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 8-10.
The Randolph residents who traveled south with the team are Frank Brenner, Al Cheli and Gene Stracco. They were joined by 11 other teammates from Morris and Essex County towns.
The New Jersey Diehards earned their trip to the Games by winning a NJ Qualification Tournament in 2016, and played in the 70+ age bracket in Alabama.
"It was very enjoyable playing in the Senior Games with a great group of guys,” said Cheli. “It's great to still be able to play with, and against, kids your own age. We don't run as fast, hit as far or throw as hard, but who notices since we are all about the same age."
The National Senior Games is a 19-sport biennial competition for men and women aged 50 and over, and is the largest multi-sport championships in the world for seniors. The competition is sponsored by the National Senior Games Association, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting health and wellness for adults 50 and over through fitness, education and sport.
The team was sponsored by the Randolph Diner. Team manager Al Cheli expressed gratitude for the support. "Bobby Spiropoulos ( The Randolph Diner Owner ) has been a great supporter of Senior softball in our community."
In Birmingham, the Diehards played seven games over a three-day period and were rewarded with a silver medal in their division. They played games against teams from Tennessee, Illinois and Mississippi.
Team member Gene Stracco also enjoyed the competition. "This was absolutely a wonderful experience for us first-timers participating in the Senior Games. Not only did we have the pleasure and excitement of playing competitive softball against other teams from across the country, but also watching other athletes in their nineties and some over one hundred years of age competing in their events. What an inspiration that is to remind us that we are never too old to be active, compete, and enjoy life".
Team member Frank Brenner is looking ahead to next years’ games. "It was a great experience and I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Brenner. “I want to thank Al Cheli for asking me to be part of the team. We're looking forward to qualifying for the 2019 games which will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico."