Eight years ago, a group of Dayton-area senior men formed a Dayton Classics softball team to train for the Senior Olympics. The athletic and energetic seniors have done quite well.
They qualified in Ohio in 2008 for the 2009 Senior Olympics in San Francisco. The team won the Silver Medal in the 55+ Division. They also qualified for the 2011 Senior Olympics in Houston, but didn’t compete that year.
The team’s best year so far was 2013, when they won a Gold Medal for the Senior Games in Cleveland, in the 60+ Division. They skipped the olympics in Minneapolis in 2015. Currently, the team has qualified for the 2017 National Senior Games and plan to compete in Birmingham, Ala., in the 65+ Division from June 2-15.
Kettering and Centerville players figure prominently on the team. Retired Kettering police officer Jim Roepken is the coach and shortstop/middle fielder. Another retired Kettering police officer, Dave Woolf, is a pitcher. Also from Kettering: Jim Boehmer, second base/middle fielder; Terry Hussong, pitcher; and Butch Tanner, catcher/pitcher. Centerville players are Tom Hanna at first base and Dave Riley as an outfielder.
Four hail from Beavercreek: Steve Wolaver at third base and Ron Stauffer, Rick Iacibucci and Dan Connaughton as outfielders. Dayton residents are Tony Curington at first base, and Tom Franz at second base/middle fielder. Two players live farther north in Vandalia: Robert Higgins at second base or third base, and Jim Treadway at shortstop. George Furman, a catcher, lives in Xenia. Two farther south are Larry Weaver (a shortstop) from Hamilton, and Chris Stenger (outfield) from Cincinnati.
In Senior Softball, there is an extra player on the field, an extra infielder behind second base. As the years go on, their ages go up. They started in the 55+ Division, and now qualify for the 65+ Division. The team’s two oldest players will be 71: Ron Stuaffer, also known as Pops, and Tom Franz. The two youngest at 65 are Robert Higgins and Larry Weaver.
As you can imagine, a group of guys who play ball and travel together end up with some funny stories. San Francisco will be remembered as a particularly fun trip. One night they were coming back from a day excursion, and three cars were following the lead car.
“The leading driver decided, at 70 mph, to get over two lanes to an exit ramp. I was second in line, and signaled to get off,” Roepken said. “I looked back to see if the other guys were able to get over and the car behind me went dark. Instead of turning on his turn signal he turned off his headlights. We still laugh about that one.”
And it seems as if the beauty of the Bay area can be a little distracting at times.
“One of our outfielders seemed to lose his focus during the finals in San Francisco. As the pitcher was getting ready to pitch the ball he had his back to the infield and made the remark, ‘Aren’t those beautiful mountains out there,’ ” said Roepken. “Myself and one of the other outfielders had to yell at him to turn around. He certainly will never here the end of that one.”
Because most of these players have been with the team for eight years, they have many stories to tell, and more to come.
“We put this team together not only to compete, but also just have a good time and enjoy each others company,” Roepken said. “Although we are no longer playing together in a league we still meet on our old league night. Even in the winter. All of us are still playing senior softball.”
Contact this contributing writer at PamDillon@woh.rr.com.