As good as gold
Whoever coined the phrase “50 is the new 30” might have been talking about Michael Wolfman.
Wolfman, who is 55, recently played for Canada’s Masters softball team in the 11th Pan Am Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires – and he came home with gold.
“Training for this definitely put me in the best physical shape I’ve been in since I was a kid,” Wolfman says, reflecting on the months of rigorous training he spent in preparation for the Games. The Master’s team consists of players who are 35 and older; at 55, Wolfman, who plays as pitcher and fielder, was the oldest.
“Most team members are in their 30s and 40s,” he says. “Although three of us are in our 50s.”
Age certainly is no barrier to these athletes. In fact, one Canadian tennis player was in his 70s, Wolfman says.
Canada’s only gold
In the international competition involving 22 countries, Canada came in 10th place overall. The competition, which is sponsored by the Latin American Maccabi Confederation, is held every four years and covers all summer sports that would normally be a part of the Olympic Games, from chess and golf to swimming and soccer.
Wolfman’s team won Canada’s only gold medal at the Games.
It was an achievement Wolfman had long dreamed of. Having played softball since he was a kid – and then as an adult in the Toronto B’nai Brith softball league – he passed along his passion for the game to his daughter, Asia. The softball gene apparently runs in the family: at age 17, Asia became the youngest player on the women’s team in the 2005 Israeli Maccabiah Games.
“I realized my daughter was living my dream,” Wolfman says. So when the try-outs were announced for the 2007 Pan Am games, he decided to go for it.
As a 3rd string pitcher and reserve player, Wolfman says he was gratified to be part of the experience and that any actual playing-time would be a bonus. “But in fact, I got into 3 out of the 4 games,” he says.
Staying fit while having fun
In addition to playing softball, Wolfman also plays hockey, again through B’nai Brith Athletics adult sports leagues. “I couldn’t imagine not exercising,” he says. “If I ever gave up sports, I’d probably be pushing 200 pounds and not feeling well at all, mentally and physically.”
While he has been fortunate to avoid any major injuries (except for a problem with his rotator cuff), Wolfman concedes that he needs to spend more time stretching than he did when he was younger.
That said, Wolfman certainly isn’t slowing down much. In fact, the 2009 Maccabiah Israeli Games could very well see him on the softball field, this time as a coach for the women’s team – a team that could very well include his daughter.
We’ll be watching.
The Pan-Am Maccabi Games are held every four years in a country in the Americas. The Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish athletic event similar to the Olympics, take place in Israel every four years. Considered one of the five largest sporting events in the world, the first Games were held in 1932.
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Read more about Canada’s win in the 11th Pan Am Maccabi Games.
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