4 metro Atlanta sports leagues for the 50-and-over crowd

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Gary Mastrodonato has never missed a spring of playing ball since he started at age six. That makes 72 years for the 78-year-old.

While Little League was his thing back in the day, now he plays in the Gwinnett County-based Atlanta Senior Softball League, along with serving as a board member. He can’t recommend the experience enough.

“I occasionally umpire as needed, and I love to watch ‘em bomb the ball,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “In the league for the younger players, those 45 and up, there are an average of five-10 homers in a game — three to five at a minimum. The older guys are a kick, too, and some of them can still hit hard or are great fielding guys with good arms yet.”

Just as many players are out of shape or were average when they played in younger years, he said, and the league has places for all of them.

“It’s a good league for companionship,” Mastrodonato said. “When someone shows up for the first time, they start talking to somebody else, and the comfort zone almost immediately falls into place. That’s the way things happen here.”

Along with softball, several sports leagues designed for mature adults offer that same feeling of belonging in addition to the opportunity to compete and stay physically fit.

Here is the scoop on the Atlanta men’s senior softball league, along with some details about three other metro Atlanta-area sports leagues of particular interest to those 50 and up:

Round Robin tennis at Harrison Tennis Center

Cobb County’s largest public facility, Harrison Tennis Center offers a casual, ongoing round-robin that was once targeted only to seniors but now accommodates a few younger players, too. Players can show up without preregistering, though the facility does ask you to start using the center’s app once you’ve played a couple of times.

Facility manager Wayne Miller is 66 and was once a dedicated tennis player, though hip surgery a couple of years ago has stalled his game.

Credit: Fred Puryear

Credit: Fred Puryear

“One of the advantages of tennis is that you can play it all your life,” he said. “The fact that there’s a Super Senior World Team for people who are 65-90 who play at the national level is a testament to that.”

To enjoy playing in the round robins, Miller said people should be familiar with the basics of the game.

“You really need to know how to play, though this is a low level of competition. You may want to take a few brush-up lessons if it’s been a while. If you’ve never played before, consider one of the 6-8 week beginner sessions we hold throughout the year.”

Where: Harrison Tennis Center, 2653 Shallowford Rd. NE, Marietta.

When: 10 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

How much: $5 per session; tennis balls provided.

For more information visit cobbcounty.org/parks/recreation/tennis/harrison-tennis-center.

Senior summer bowling league at Roswell Bowlero

This 13-week league brings together teams of men and women who are ages 50 and over, and you can sign up as a team or put your name in to join a team. Even so-called gutter duster players can bowl competitively since they receive extra points as a handicap each week, depending on their league game score average.

Where: Bowlero Roswell, 785 Old Roswell Rd., Roswell.

When: Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. May 11-August 17.

How much: To be determined but at least $10 per week.

For more information: Call 770-998-9437 or access the website at bowlero.com/location/bowlero-roswell/leagues.

Atlanta Track Club Masters long-distance running

Competitive runners age 40 and up can join the long-distance running Masters group within the Atlanta Track Club for camaraderie and training.

The group was created for competitive athletes of all ability levels who seek to improve their performance. It’s part of USA Track & Field, which hosts events across the U.S. from one mile to a marathon. Anyone wishing to join must first become a member of the Atlanta Track Club and then interface with one of the two team captains to be approved before registering.

When: Year-long.

Where: Various Atlanta metro locations and regional and national race sites as applicable.

How much: $40 to join the ATC (or $70 for two adults living in the same household), additional fees apply for certain competitions you opt into.

For more information contact long-distance running team captains: Randy Stroud, ranstroud@gmail.com, for men, and Missy Shah, missy.shah@gmail.com, for women.

Join the Atlanta Track Club at atlantatrackclub.org/join-now and if approved by the captain, join the Masters team at atlantatrackclub.org/atlanta-track-club-masters.

Metro Atlanta Senior Softball League

This league has two divisions: the American League for men ages 45-plus and women 40-plus and the National League for players who are 60 and older, though there is a bit of discretion as to which group a player is assigned to.

“In the National League, the game isn’t as intense — you’ll play the game and want to win, but when it’s over it’s over,” said Mastrodonato, who only moved to the National League three years ago at age 75. “In the American League, you’ll keep thinking about the game until the next week.”

While the official registration is over for this year, the league will still work new players onto a team if they wish.

All registered members are entitled to come hit the ball at the two morning-a-week practices held throughout the week, even if they aren’t playing in the season for one reason or another. The group also hosts a popular awards banquet in winter and takes on other activities en masse, like attending an Atlanta Braves game.

When: League play begins in early April; the second half starts in July. Games are held at 7 p.m. for younger players on Mondays and Wednesdays and on Tuesdays and Thursdays for older players. Practices open to all members run all year on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, scheduled to start between 9 and 11 a.m. depending on the weather and time of year.

Where: Best Friend Park, 6224 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross.

How much: $30 annual membership covers practices; additional $98 per season league fee; players over 80 pay only the annual membership fee.

For more information: Visit atlantaseniorsoftball.com or friend Metro Atlanta Senior Softball League on Facebook.

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