Tournament had many Ohio connections
When senior Softball came to Columbus, Ohio for the 2023 National Senior Games Softball Championship presented by Humana, it became apparent there were a lot of direct and coincidental connections to the Buckeye State.
More than 1,500 athletes age 50 and older from around the country competed for age division medals at the Lou Berliner Sports Park between May 3-6. The event included 94 teams, 73 female and 21 male.
Thirteen teams and a total of 163 athletes (more than ten percent of the national tournament) were Ohio-based, including eight Columbus area athletes.
“That’s an impressive showing for the host state,” National Senior Games Association (NSGA) Interim CEO Sue Hlavacek commented. “The in-staters knew what a great playing venue Berliner is, and our visiting athletes appreciated the consistent fields and amenities. We really wanted to hit a home run with this event, and based on the feedback I think our team created a great athlete experience.”
There’s more to the Ohio theme. The oldest player was 92-year-old Joanne Sogan of North Cantion, Ohio. Her team, the Ohio Tri Stars, had the highest average team age at 81.2 years. Add to this the coincidence that Hlavacek is an Ohio native who lives in Cleveland, and that Jack Shinnock, Chair of the NSGA Board of Directors, resides in the Columbus area.
The week began with early rain and temperatures in the 40’s on Wednesday, but when the sun came out the players enjoyed three days of great softball weather through Saturday. With the weather forecast showing heavy rain on Sunday, Hlavacek met with Tournament Director Dana Brown, the Ohio USA Softball Commissioner and Team Captains who agreed it was best to play out the remaining championship brackets on Saturday evening to avoid long weather delays. “Berliner features turf infields and the outfields have excellent drainage, but we all felt it was best to continue the games,” Hlavacek noted.
For the May 5th Athlete Celebration players were treated to a baseball game between the Columbus Clippers and the Iowa Cubs. A line of more than 1,000 players stretched the entire perimeter of the outfield fence at Huntington Park for the pregame Parade of States. The joy of being together for another National Senior Games was apparent as they marched around and up to their complimentary seats.
The event earned media coverage in the state, including the syndicated Ohio Sports Magazine radio show interview with Communications and Media Director Del Moon (listen here). Two TV stations came out to cover the event. Cam Fontana with Fox 28’s morning show in Columbus featured five live segments from the park, including interview with Joanne Sogan plus interviews with staff and athletes. The highlight was Cam taking an at bat against the 75+ Tri Stars and getting legitimately put out at third base after smacking a screaming liner into left center.
There was another great feature on Sogan by ABC 10’s Amy Steigerwald which you can view here. Columbus Business Now also published a nice article (sorry, it’s only available for subcribers.)
NSGA will also post a 2023 Softball Photo Gallery online soon.
The event is tied to the biennial National Senior Games, one of the largest multisport events in the world since 1987. The 2023 Games are set for July 7-18 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with 20 sports to be contested there. However, when it was determined that there were not enough competition-ready senior softball fields to accommodate the number of teams, the Pittsburgh host organization and NSGA agreed moving the softball competition to the Berliner Sports Park in Columbus would ensure the athletes would have an excellent experience.
NSGA thanks the Greater Columbus Sports Commission and the City of Columbus for partnering with us to host the Championship. GCSC Marketing Manager Matthew McGreevey commented to local media that they expect the economic impact from the tournanment to approach $2 million.
2023 Softball Champions
With five-year age levels, some having more than one division, there were many teams who received Gold Medals, as listed below.
AGE DIVISION GOLD MEDAL TEAM STATE
W 50+ Div I Stix With Impact CA
W 50+ Div II NC Legends NC
W 50+ Div III Illinois Dirt Divas IL
W55+ Div I Jolico 55’s MI
W 55+ Div II Slugger Strong FL
W 55+ Div III Tennesee Stars TN+
W60+ Div I Golden Players 60 FL
W 60+ Div II Gems Next Level VA
W 60+ Div III Cappers FL
W65+ Div I Jolico 65 MI
W 65+ Div II Whynots NC
W 65+ Div III Wannabees 65+ NC
W70+ Div. I California Spirit 70 CA
W 70+ Div. II Ohio Cardinals OH
W 70+ Div lII Ohio Silver Spirit 70 OH
W75+ Golden Players 75 FL
M60+ Div I Radcliffe Realty MD
M 60+ Div II Pittsburgh North PA
M65+ Omega IT Services MD
M70+ Div. I Delaware Stars DE
M 70+ Div. II South Carolina Upstate SC
M75+ Chicago Strikers (Tie) IL
Steel City (Tie) PA
Complete results can be found at the QuickScores website link here. For more information about National Senior Games please visit NSGA.com.
The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) is a member of the U.S. Olympic Paralympic Committee Affiliate Organization Committee. NSGA is a nonprofit Florida corporation that promotes health and well-being for adults 50 and over through education, fitness and sport. NSGA governs the biennial National Senior Games, the largest multi-sport championship event in the world. The Association is comprised of 52 independent Member Games that conduct qualifying competition events, and the 2023 National Senior Games presented by Humana will be held July 7-18, 2023. For more information, please visit NSGA.com.
ABOUT THE GREATER COLUMBUS SPORTS COMMISSION
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission is a nonprofit organization with a mission to rally Columbus to compete and win sporting events, providing a singular athlete and fan experience and positively impacting image, economy and lifestyle. Since 2002, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission has booked nearly 600 new sporting events for the Columbus Region, generating an estimated $625 million in direct visitor spending. Visit columbussports.org to learn more.