Will the Bigger Kids Pick on me?


When I first moved to Florida in 2016, it was to the Villages, which is about an hour north of Orlando. There were about 100,000, 55+ people living there at the time.

I was closing in on retirement myself at that point. I love to golf, but also started exploring other activities that would be fun. I soon discovered that there were 3,000 softball players in the Villages! Even though I hadn’t played in more than 30 years, I thought it would be a lot of fun to play again.

Let me tell you, they take their softball seriously there. They have 6 different divisions of all abilities and a variety of neighborhood and recreational leagues in addition. It is for ages 50 and above. They have uniforms, game announcers, newspaper coverage, try outs, drafts and beautiful fields!

All players are required to try out and show their skills before becoming eligible to play in one of the divisions. Before try outs, I had to buy a glove and at least one bat, then I could sign up.

OK, so at that point, I was 58 years old and had gone through a lot of experiences in my lifetime. Suddenly though, I was feeling very nervous about going to the try outs. It was like I was a little kid all over again thinking, would I embarrass myself, would the other “kids” pick on me, would I be the last guy picked on the team?  I really had to push myself to go to the try outs.

When I got there, I used the bathroom at the fields about 16 times before it was my turn to go. There were around 15 other guys trying out the same day…. BTW, they don’t call it a “try out”, they call it an “evaluation.” They have you run, throw, catch, field and bat and then rate you on each skill. At the end, they tell you which division you qualify to play in for your first season. After your first season, you are allowed to go up or down a level on your own.

Much to my surprise, I was picked to play in division 2 (second best league) even after a 30 plus year hiatus from the sport! Being 58 at the time in a retirement community obviously had its advantages. The guy that evaluated me ended up drafting me for his team and I played for him for several seasons.

My point to all of this is that all of this exposure made me really feel alive. I felt scared, challenged, worried, happy and satisfied. I ended up finding something new in my life that I have pursued ever since. I’ve gone on to play over 400 games in Bradenton, Sarasota and playing now in Naples. Florida. If I hadn’t fought off my initial nervousness in the first place, I would not have had the fun that I have had for several years now.

When I first put my artwork into shows and for sale, I had all of the same feelings! I didn’t know what to expect and I was just as nervous. It has turned out to be equally rewarding.

If you are on the fence yourself to try something new and stepping out of your comfort zone, my advice is just go do it! I;ve learned that getting the most of life and living life like you really mean it requires taking risks.

‘Til next time,