The Long Island Senior Softball Association allows older athletes the opportunity to still play the game they love competitively. Each year, teams follow a 62-game schedule.
Most recently, the Lynbrook Dodgers, a team sponsored by The Bristal Assisted Living Communities, hosted the American Re-Fuel Flames in a double header at Gries Veterans Memorial Park. The Dodgers swept the double header 12-3 and 15-0, but the scores were the least important part of the afternoon. During the game, members of The Bristal Cheerleading squad, including many residents from The Bristal Communities in East Meadow and Westbury, lined the first base side of the field to cheer the players on.
"It was really a very special day for all of us," said Lucille Mikelinich, a resident of the Bristal in East Meadow. "For many of us, it was a journey back to our teens when we routinely attended sporting events and cheered on the players who represented our schools. The preparation we put into this also built friendships with other residents that did not previously exist."
Lorraine Tierney, a resident of The Bristal in Westbury, said, "I wasn't sure that I'd be able to learn the routines. However, the young girls from Hewlett High School were just wonderful. They were very patient and made sure we understood each step they were teaching us. The girls who are cheerleaders today are certainly a lot nicer than the girls were in my day."
Anne Madsen, recreational director of The Bristal at Westbury, said, "It was a team effort to get ready for the main event ... pompons had to be made, cheers had to be learned and a sunny day had to be prayed for."
Felice Tauber, recreational director of The Bristal at East Meadow, added, "Our residents practiced for weeks with the Hewlett High School Cheerleading Squad, learning the routines that would cheer on the players to victory. Our residents really looked forward to the game "
Harry Schwarzkoph, captain of the Lynbrook Dodgers, says his teammates were very excited when they learned that the cheerleaders would be joining them. "We have players from 62 to 78 years of age on this team," he said. "We take the game very seriously. Guys like Jackie Robinson, PeeWee Reese and Gil Hodges were our heroes. We go all out on every play, and sometimes there is just a handful of people in the stands. The cheerleaders made us feel very special, and I think we played even harder to make them proud of us."
Sharon Mullen, commissioner of Senior Services for Nassau County, attended the game and said, "I was most impressed with the efforts of the cheerleaders. An innovative approach to recreational activities speaks volumes about the way that The Bristal programs activities for its residents. They not only enjoyed the afternoon at the ballgame, but, also, the preparation leading up to it. It excited them, and the success of the program was underscored by the excitement that they generated during the game."
For information on The Bristal Assisted Living communities, please call Ellen Antonucci at 336-2600.