Medalist from '93 Senior Olympics seeks more softball games to win AH. SOUTHWEST -- MOUNT AIRY * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

July 02, 1993|By Kathy Sutphin | Kathy Sutphin,Contributing Writer

Mount Airy's "Golden Girl," Jane Rogers, may have brought home a silver medal from the 1993 National Senior Olympics in June, but the softball enthusiast is not ready to rest on her laurels.

Mrs. Rogers played first base for this year's Virginia Senior Olympic women's softball team -- the Golden Girls. The team earned a silver medal for each of its 18 members during the National Senior Sports Classic IV in Baton Rouge on June 17, she said.

Although a weekend event on June 26 and 27 officially ended the Olympic team, Mrs. Rogers is now a member of the Golden Girls II, a Virginia women's softball tournament team.

The team will play softball throughout autumn, switching to indoor ragball when the weather turns cold.

"I'm a lefty; the only lefty on the team," she said.

In addition to participating in year-round activities in Virginia, Mrs. Rogers spends her weekends and evenings playing on softball teams in Montgomery and Frederick counties.

Mrs. Rogers works Monday through Friday as secretary at Calvary United Methodist Church in Mount Airy. Her husband, Roy, enjoys cheering for his wife at many of her games and accompanied her to Louisiana to root for the Golden Girls at the Senior Olympics.

Softball will also dominate the couple's vacation time this year with short jaunts planned so she can participate in tourneys in Detroit, Canada and Pennsylvania.

"It's fun," said Mrs. Rogers. "It gives you something to look forward to and it's good for you."

Mrs. Rogers, who graduated from Blair High School in 1955, did not play team sports until age 34 after she had moved to Mount Airy. She said she started playing softball and volleyball on women's recreation teams.

"I'd always liked it and had never done it," she explained.

Sunday evening women's softball games were once popular weekly events in the Mount Airy area, according to Mrs. Rogers. She has played on teams in Frederick and Carroll County leagues and is a former member of Stan's Road Runners, a Mount Airy team that was coached by the late Stan Lare and later by Jack Devault.

"I kept on going when a lot of other people did not," she said.

Women's softball has been a family sport for Mrs. Rogers and her daughter, Katie Swope. Mother and daughter played on the same Frederick County team for eight summers, with Mrs. Rogers as the catcher and Mrs. Swope playing left field.

"We've been to state and regional tournaments together," said Mrs. Rogers.

Although Mrs. Rogers played volleyball in the Maryland Senior Olympics in October 1992, this year's Olympics in Baton Rouge was her first experience in the national event.

Helen Boyd, a friend from high school with whom Mrs. Rogers had later played softball, was responsible for her becoming a member of the Virginia Olympic team.

"She called in November and asked if I wanted to go over to Virginia and try out for a team called the Golden Girls," said Mrs. Rogers.

After the second tryout, the two were asked if they were interested in playing on the Olympic team.

"They could take three out-of-staters," said Mrs. Rogers. "This team, two years ago, took the gold in Syracuse."

Mrs. Boyd, a Damascus resident, and Mrs. Rogers began commuting to Vienna for once-a-week indoor practices in January that later moved outside. In April, the practices increased to two a week.

Mrs. Rogers said the rules for senior women's softball are somewhat different from those with which she was familiar. The differences help to "cut down on injuries," she said. No sliding is allowed, and players can overrun every base and cross the scoring line.

"When you come to home plate, you don't touch it or you're out."

The Golden Girls team, its members from 55 to 69 years of age, was one of 10 teams from North America in the "over-55" category playing in the 1993 National Senior Olympics. In that category, the youngest player cannot be younger than 55, Mrs. Rogers explained. One "over-60" women's softball team played exhibition games and received a gold medal because it was the only team in that category.

All softball games were played in Baton Rouge's Independence Park. The Golden Girls played a total of six games in the Louisiana heat and "only lost the last one" against the Michigan team, Mrs. Rogers said.

Mrs. Rogers estimated that 7,500 men and women, representing an increase of 2,500 people from 1991, participated in the National Senior Olympics, which were held June 12 to 18. Events included basketball, badminton, tennis, swimming, cycling, /^ volleyball and shuffleboard, as well as track and field sports.

"There were people in their 90s participating," she said. "It was amazing to see."

Softball will continue to hold an important role in Mrs. Rogers' life.

"I'm not fast, but in this league it doesn't matter," she said. "I like to be a part of a team and I've made lots of friends."

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