In playing well over 100 games each year, Maureen Deys makes it clear there are few places she would be rather be than on a ball diamond.
As a member of three different teams, the 73-year-old from Lake Country plays slo-pitch pretty much every day in Arizona where she and her husband, Bernie Deys, spend their winters.
Back home in the Okanagan, with the new season beginning in May, she plays at least 40 times a year in the Kelowna Senior Slo-Pitch League.
In addition to the pure joy of simply playing the game, Deyes believes the benefits of slo-pitch for seniors can be vast and varied.
“I associate with a lot of people who feel the same way about sports,” said Deyes, who began playing the game at 29 in her native Edmonton. “I like to stay in shape, the exercise helps keep those aches and pains away, and I think it can help you be a better person.
“I like the social aspects, too, you meet a lot of people,” she added, “and of course I just love playing the game.”
In Mesa, AZ, Deys plays between 80 to 100 games a year on three different teams—two women’s and one men’s.
Among the highlights of the winter season for Deys is the annual CanAm Softball Games each March at Monte Vista Village Resort. An event founded by Bernie Deys four years ago, Canada and the U.S. meet for a pair of friendly, yet also competitive, exhibition games. Maureen, known more casually as Mo, was the lone woman on the Canadian team.
“It’s really a great event, it’s friendly, but there is a bit of a rivalry there, as you would expect between two countries,” Deys said. “You should see the fans, the flags from both countries, Canadians and Americans all come out to support it.
“I played in the first game and we won,” she added, “they (the U.S.) came back and won the second, so both sides walked away with something.”
After a month-long break, Deys will soon be back on the diamond as the new Kelowna Senior Slo-Pitch League season kicks off May 1.
The league features both mixed recreational and men’s competitive divisions, with players ranging in age from 50 to 85.
Of the 110 players who signed up last season, league president Bill Kearns said the majority fell in the 62 to 67 age bracket.
Regardless of skill level or experience, Kearns said the Kelowna Senior Slo-Pitch League is open to anyone and everyone.
“We have a full range of people playing, including people in their late 50s or early 60s who are literally playing for the first time in their lives,” Kearns said. “Our recreational side is a chance to get out and meet people, increase that friendship circle, and just go out, have a beer after and have fun.
“The competitive league is a little more serious, with stats kept and trophies being awarded,” added Kearns, “so there’s really something for everyone.”
Kearns said new interested players are welcome to attend practises on April 17, 19 and 24 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Mission sports fields.
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