Friends, Softball, and Smiles
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
We recently caught up by phone with Mike Young, one of the co-captains of the Spanish Lakes Senior Softball Team, and a long-time resident of Spanish Lakes Fairways. Mike and his wife Nancy are in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the summer, but he was very happy to talk about the team and the active community he and his wife are a part of.
So, you're a snowbird, I take it?
Yes. I call us sunbirds because we follow the sun, not the snow.
You've been a Fairways resident for 12 years. What's been your experience living there?
My wife's parents lived down in Boynton Beach. We had visited many places in Florida, and nothing really hit us. I had friends that happened to be in Fairways, and they said “Hey, on your way back up north, bring your glove, bring your bat, bring your tennis rackets and let's have some fun before you head north!”
Well, we ended up driving in, and it was like putting on a shoe that fit perfectly. We ended up getting invited to a wedding of people we didn’t know. We don't have wedding clothes! “We want you to wear your tennis outfit.” So it was like “you’re a part of our group” automatically. We just felt very welcomed coming into Fairways, and we ended up buying almost unseen.
Have you ever stayed for a summer?
We've always headed north because we have 13 grandkids that are 15 and under, and I tell everybody they can't live without us. The actual truth is, we probably can't live without them, but it makes for a better story.
I understand you've served as manager of the Spanish Lakes senior softball team in the past?
Yes, it’s a 60 and up league.
Who else is in the league?
Cascades, Savanna, Golden Ponds, Tradition. There's going to be a new one coming up, but I'm not really sure what the basis of it is. Most of them are south in Port St. Lucie. We're the farthest north.
What was your role on the team this past season?
I was co-captain. I've been captain probably 4 years now. I took on another person who happens to be down in Florida the whole year, Mike Meier. He’s looking for people down there. And we felt that would be a better situation since I'm up here [in Michigan].
Some of you are Spanish Lakes Fairways residents, and some are from outside the community. Is this so you have enough players to field a team?
Yes. And also we need to make sure that we have enough strength to compete. We want to keep the foundation “Spanish Lakes,” but we also want to compete with the other teams which are drawing from all over the place.
Where are the games played?
Two of the teams have their home games at Lyngate, and two at Quincy. We play at Lakewood Neighborhood Park. And Golden Ponds has their own field right there off of the freeway.
When does the season run?
It starts in early January. The first game normally is normally the first Wednesday of the year, and the season runs through playoffs in the middle of April.
Do you all play any recreational softball or practice?
We do! There are pickup games, for the most part, every Wednesday and Friday. They're going on right now, for example. A lot of times they'll play at Lyngate, and other times at Sandhill Crane.
How long have you been playing softball yourself? Did you start as a baseball player from a young age?
Yeah, I started with that…I was in charge of a recreation program here where we live in the summertime. I started doing that in ‘83, so I was in charge of recreation for 17 years, and then I I was on the board for nine [years]. But ever since I've been here, we've been trying to keep softball going.
Do any spouses or spectators come to the games?
They do! A lot of spouses and family…The field that we play on has a good set of bleachers, and of course when you win, more people come to see it. We try to play our best, but we play to have fun. And we pick each other up, so if you're on the team, and let's say you make an error, I might kind of tease you a little bit, but I'll pick you up. “Hey, you’ll get it next time.” So we don't get on each other. We like to have people smiling when they get there, smile through the game, and be smiling at the end. We even get together after the game at one of the ballplayer’s places in Fairways. He's a bachelor, so he can have all the guys over, and we have a ball. It's a fun time and we have good camaraderie.
A special intergeneration picture. Dick is the Dad and usual team pitcher. Son Richard, 62, flies in from New York to play lots of the games with his 83-yr old dad! Mom is just glowing with pride and comes to the games for support!
For you personally, do you participate in any other sports or other activities at Fairways?
As a matter of fact, I do. I throw horseshoes on Monday. I play tennis and pickleball on Tuesday and Thursday. Of course, softball on Wednesday, Friday. We play ping pong on Tuesday and Friday. Let's see..I'm on the praise team at our church, and we go to Pineapple Joe's for karaoke at night. And so I sing also.
That's amazing. You sound like the definition of “active adult”!
Well, when I first started thinking about retiring, my idea of retiring was sitting on a porch some place in a rocking chair waiting to die. And I said “I'm not doing that. There’s no way I'm going to do that.” So we wanted to go some place where they had so many activities–oh, we’re also involved in at least three different clubs who have a ton of activities–I wanted to go some place where they had so many things to do, we couldn't do them all. And that's really what Spanish Lakes has done for us. It's just…You can't do everything, and that makes it a whole lot of fun for us.
Looking to next season, do you have any goals or ideas how it might be different next season?
Well, they're considering possibly opening the team up to some co-ed play…to some ladies. I don't know if that will happen. It's been talked about in the meetings. We're trying to strengthen our team, which, if anybody in the Spanish Lakes Communities would like to try out for the team…We try to get started with try outs and practices on our field in the park in early October, and that's when people can give me a call. But yes, we're looking for a decent team. We'd like to maybe add a few more Spanish Lakes people to the team.
Let me tell you about our minister. He plays for our team, and you have to be 60 within the year of the season. So he was being interviewed by some people and they said, “How old are you?” “Well, I'm 59, and I won't be 60 until next year, but I believe life begins at conception, so I’ve got an extra nine months.” After they got done laughing they said “All right, you can play.” Pretty good story. 🥎