You might have to drag Terry Elrod off the field before he retires from playing recreational softball.
Elrod, 63, has been playing the past 15 years in the men’s adult softball league through Southeast Christian Church’s Sports & Fitness Ministry.
“I keep thinking this will be my last year—the last three or four years—so until somebody forces it, I guess I’ll probably play another year,” said Elrod, a Southeast member. “It’s really a lot of fun. Some deep friendships have been forged.”
Elrod has enjoyed not only getting outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, but connecting with the younger guys on the team.
“I’m not any good,” Elrod added. “I just play. I’m catcher. I try to get a hit every once in a while, but I like the camaraderie with the guys. They’re all cheering for me being the old guy on the team. So that’s kind of a fun feeling.”
Elrod is one of 400 adults currently participating in either men’s or coed softball and coed sand volleyball at the Blankenbaker Campus. There are 1,100 youth involved in softball and baseball, which just ended, and soccer.
Sports & Fitness Ministry Associate Harrison Dale has loved the turnout in spite of COVID, with about 80% participation compared to last year.
“People just love sports, and often, I think need sports,” Dale said. “There’s been so much gratitude for us putting on this league because their kids needed to be out and needed to have their baseball or softball season. We were like, ‘Man, I can’t imagine having missed a baseball season growing up, so I don’t want these kids to have to either.’”
Matt Clark, a member of the Blankenbaker Campus, has played sand volleyball for two years now.
“When my wife and I started dating, she played volleyball, and so she got me interested in volleyball,” said Clark, 33. “Now we play in the semi-competitive league together. It gives us a sense of normalcy and what we enjoyed doing before everything went crazy. It lets us do something we like to do together.”
Dale said it’s more than a game.
“A family that came out to baseball this year came up to us one Tuesday night and said, ‘Hey, you don’t realize how important this is to my family and I right now. My father-in-law passed away yesterday and this has just been an incredible distraction and relief for my family,’” Dale said. “Stories like that get you excited about what we’re doing at Sports & Fitness. This is the front door to the church, oftentimes, and we want to be that for the community.”
Elrod is one player who uses it as an outreach opportunity.
“I’m thankful the church offers this and has it every year,” Elrod said. “It’s such a great ministry. There are some people who don’t know about the church, and they come in and see us, and I think that’s good. It’s also a good ministry among each other, to be able to play, to have fun and to be competitive. We go out there to win, but it’s just a game when it’s over.”
Registration is now open for coed sand volleyball. Spots are limited. For more information or to register, visit https://secc.leagueapps.com.
Sports & Fitness Center info
>The weight room, cardio room and track are open with limited capacities.
>Pickleball is available and online registration is required due to limited space.
>Group fitness classes are offered both in-person and online. Visit the Sports & Fitness website or Facebook page for available classes and guidelines.
>All gathering spaces remain closed: the food court, locker room, game room, gym courts for basketball and volleyball and the racquetball courts. The children’s playroom and childcare opened Sept. 8.
>There is no towel service, and vending machines and water fountains are closed. Visitors are encouraged to wear a mask and bring their own towel, mat and water bottle. Water bottle filling stations are available.