Cold, misty rain and muddy surroundings – standard conditions this winter in the Carolinas – couldn’t mask the fact that spring is around the corner. And they didn’t prevent dozens of grown men from coming out to prepare for another season in the sun.

More than 65 participants braved temperatures in the 40s and a steady soaking drizzle to take part in the first Jeff Hall Senior Softball Camp held Saturday, March 9, at Bradford Park. United States softball legend Jeff Hall and a team of other well-known stars of the sport were on hand to serve as instructors in the day-long event designed for senior softball players of all talent levels.

Coordinated with local softball league organizers Bill Anderson and Bill Barrett, the event attracted campers from both Carolinas and other neighboring states and served as a type of ceremonial outing marking the start of a new softball season. Senior league games begin in Huntersville this week and the first big senior softball tournament of the year in the Southeast is this weekend in Myrtle Beach.

The camp – with kids at heart enduring mud and puddles to acquire pointers from some of softball’s biggest hitters, including Hall, Paul Sadler, Ed Starcher and Paul Stanley  – is an indication of the popularity of senior softball, along with on-site involvement by equipment manufacturers DeMarini and Louisville Slugger.

“It’s a national trend, absolutely,” said Hall, a long-time star on multiple national softball circuits who has been a part of 15 world championship teams. “Look at this. It’s cold, wet, muddy and all these people still showed up.

Anderson, who along with Barrett and others, helped get senior softball leagues up and running in Huntersville years ago, wasn’t surprised by the turnout.

“There is still a lot of little boy in all of us,” Anderson, 66, said, adding about 200 players take part in Huntersville senior league action. Anderson said teams and leagues – recreational and competitive – cater to various skill levels. And everyone is welcome to participate.

“We want everyone to know about this and know they can come play too,” Anderson said.

There are also leagues in Charlotte and chances to join senior teams that travel to regional tournaments. Information about the new Jeff Hall Senior Softball series, which will feature five qualifying tournaments, all within 200 miles of Charlotte, culminating in a world series tournament in Cary – is available at www.jeffhallseniorsoftball.com.

Details of senior softball opportunities offered by the Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department are available atwww.huntersville.org.

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