Seniors seek more volleyball players

A small group of senior citizens from Taylor and Allen Park is looking for a few good men – or women – to join in regular weekly volleyball games at the Taylor Recreation Center.

Pat Westra of Allen Park said the seniors play from 9 to 11 a.m. Mondays. When there are enough participants, they play volleyball in the Recreation Center gymnasium. When there aren’t as many, they play wallyball on one of the courts.

“We used to have 10 or 12 players – and that was a good volleyball game,” said Westra, who is 77.

Since then, some of the seniors moved away, had surgery or “just can’t play any more” for various reasons, she said.

On a recent Monday in November, there were only six players – three men and three women, so the group played wallyball, which is similar to volleyball but takes place in an enclosed court and the walls are in play.

“If we have at least eight people, we can use the gym,” Westra said.

“We prefer volleyball,” added Phyllis Ellis, 67.

The seniors play mostly for fun, exercise and camaraderie, Ellis said. In the seniors’ game, the ball can bounce twice before it has to be returned over the net or passed to another player, according to Bob Sharky, a 78-year-old Taylor resident.

The ability of the players varies. Some are more competitive than others. Occasionally, they even keep score.

Sharky and Jim Calder – the 80-year-old former owner of Calder Dairy in Lincoln Park – used to compete in a seniors league.

Allen Parker Cathy Fennell, 74, wears wallyball gloves.

“They sort of protect your hands,” she said, noting that she started wearing the gloves after jamming a finger during a game.

Westra and her friends used to play at Arno and Bennie elementary schools in Allen Park, but when their numbers dropped “slowly” to four, they found a new home in Taylor, where Sharky, Calder and others had played since the mid-1990s.

The merger has worked. Westra said they like the fact that seniors can play free during the two hours on Mondays.

Tammy Baldwin, who works at the Recreation Center, said seniors pay only $1 per hour after 11 a.m.

“Did you see how hard they play there?” Baldwin said. “They can really hit the ball.”

The Taylor Recreation Center is located at 22805 Goddard Road, just west of Pardee Road. For more information on activities at the center, call 1-734-374-3901.

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