CALLICOON CENTER –– George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, once said, “we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” For …
CALLICOON CENTER –– George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, once said, “we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” For 87-year-old Bill Engle and the rest of the Sullivan County Seniors softball team, that certainly seems to be the case.
The team was founded in 1990, 31 years ago for local softball players over the age of 55 to play in the Senior Games in Cortland. Engle was on that original team over three decades ago, and is still going strong today.
As the years have passed, the team has transitioned from competing against other local softball teams to an intramural squad that meets up on Tuesday nights for a friendly game in Callicoon Center. Everyone warms up and meets in a dugout to divide teams before starting. The atmosphere around the field buzzes with youthful energy and stories and jokes that come with age.
One of the central members of the group is Engle, a retired teacher and Town of Callicoon Justice. Engle has been a resident of Sullivan County since 1971 and a member of the Sullivan County Seniors since its inception.
“It has been a fun 31 years. I have played with and against a lot of wonderful people,” he said.
One of Engle’s favorite memories from his time on the Sullivan County Seniors was the team’s second place finish in the 1995 Senior Games. Although the teams’ past successes are something that Engle looks back on fondly, he included, “The team has brought people together from all over the county and even parts of Pennsylvania, and it has been great getting to meet and know new people.”
At 87 years old, Engle brings experience to the plate. His athletic ability does not seem to have diminished much as he finished Tuesday’s game 3-4 with a double and two singles. The oldest member on the team was also one of the top performers in the intramural game.
When the dust had settled on the field and the gear was all put away, the team gathered in the parking lot to share jokes and stories over a homemade meal.
“The team dinners are something that only started a year or two ago, completely by accident,” Engle explained. “One night somebody brought chicken after the game and it just became a tradition for us.”
After 31 years, and a lot of changes, the Sullivan County Seniors and Bill Engle are still going strong.
Engle reflected on the 2021 team by saying, “It’s great that this has been able to continue, it’s very beneficial for the community.”