Brunswick County Senior Softball players enjoy competition and camaraderie.
The Jimmies. The Gators. The Bombers. The Slammers. The 180 die-hard softball players in the Brunswick County Senior Softball League show up with bats and gloves — and attitude! On these ball fields, age is just a number.
Sanctioned by Brunswick County Parks and Recreation, the league welcomes softball players older than age 50, and the players come from Southport, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Shallotte and Calabash, plus a few from Myrtle Beach.
League president Danny Kallick from Ocean Isle Beach has been playing with the Senior Softball League for the past six years. He says the average age of the players is 60, with some older and younger players.
“The Slammers are all over the age of 70,” Kallick says. “Our oldest player is 81. He might not run fast, but he was a player in his day. He has instincts. We have some really good serious athletes! And some just show up for the fun of playing.”
Most of the eight teams have 15 or 16 players, with the biggest team composed of 30 players and the smallest having 11. The teams have evolved over the years, some shifting into all-neighborhood teams like the Ocean Ridge Plantation team and the two teams from St. James Plantation, appropriately named The Gators and The Jimmies. The Shallotte Coastal Tire team is named after the team manager’s business.
The teams practice weekly and play double-header games against each other on Tuesdays or Thursdays for 10 weeks in the fall or 14 weeks in the spring. Games and practices, which have already started for the 2021–22 fall season, are held in Southport at Smithville Park, Lockwood Folly Park in Ocean Isle Beach Park and Shallotte Park.
The league is governed through four volunteer officers and a board of directors with bylaws and rules. In addition to Kallick, Paul Macchia is the secretary/treasurer, tracking the scores as well as collecting the $100 team fee used to purchase softballs and trophies for end-of-season tournaments. Paul Waksmunski, Ted Symanski and Joe Ferrera round out the rest of the officer positions, serving as coordinators and making the call to cancel in the event of rain or poor field conditions.
While there’s usually not much cheering from the stands, there are plenty of all-in-fun jokes and jeers in the dugout. A couple of the players’ wives come to games.
“My wife is a softball widow,” Kallick says, laughing. “I play so much that she doesn’t come to watch anymore.”
Just as many of the players, Kallick didn’t know anyone when he first moved to Brunswick County. He says the league is fun because of the camaraderie of the players.
“Everyone has had similar life experiences,” he says. “Being around people our own age who love softball is great. And we all like the competition. Most everyone in the league has played in the past.”
Like Ted Symanski. He started playing ball in Little League in New Jersey at age 9, continued through all of his school-age years and then joined his corporate league at Bell Labs followed by several other leagues. For the past six years, he’s played on the Ocean Ridge team.
“I never lost a love for baseball and softball,” Symanski says. “I play golf and pickleball, work out regularly and ride my bike, but softball is where I have the most fun. The team aspect is great, and we all pull for one another.”
Tony Rollins has played baseball, fast pitch and slow pitch softball since he was 6 years old. He temporarily stopped playing in his late 20s to coach his daughter’s travel softball team, but came back to the game 15 years later playing senior softball in Northern Virginia. When he moved to Southport, he joined the Brunswick County league, playing first for The Bombers and then for The Jimmies.
“The modified rules in senior league softball allow for older players to continue playing into their 70s,” Rollins says. “I encourage anyone who loved the game at some point in his life to get back out there again. It’s a great way to meet new people and enjoy friendship and camaraderie with teammates.”
Kallick wholeheartedly agrees: “Playing softball makes good friends.”
Want to play?
Brunswick County Senior Softball League
Interested in joining the league? The Tuesday league is adding players to existing teams. The Thursday league is drafting players to make equally competitive teams. Contact the Brunswick County Senior Softball League at firstname.lastname@example.org.