A Midlife Sports Day in Westchester County

Illustration by Joren Cull

A creative director in Mamaroneck recounts his adventures with athletics and fitness around Westchester County.

I had carefully planned my day around exercise. A light, morning jog followed by an early-evening tennis match against an athletic but husky Millennial.

When I arrived at the track, it was empty except for two maintenance guys. One was riding a mower; the other was whacking weeds. Both were wearing ginormous industrial gardening headphones.

I was running slowly, listening to a crypto podcast. It was hot, so I took off my shirt. I didn’t care about my dad bod because it was just me and the gardeners. That was until I saw a very fit 30-something mom in a pink baseball cap and a camouflage tank top approaching the track with her young daughter.

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Growing a bit self-conscious, I picked up the pace. My heart rate was going up; Bitcoin was going down. Both were bad signs. But neither could have prepared me for what was to come. Out of nowhere, my “Chariots of Crypto” moment was interrupted by an unidentified flying object that came crashing into my groin. A direct hit. I immediately dropped to the ground, screaming in agony.

Illustration by Joren Cull

As I rolled around on the track, I was quickly collecting maroon-rubber residue on my back and belly, causing me to resemble a giant piece of sesame tuna. I crawled to my hands and knees, desperately scanning the track for my unseen assailant. And that’s when I saw it, lying just a few feet behind me: half a lacrosse ball. Yes, I had been struck right where it counts by 2.5 ounces of vulcanized latex rubber.

I started flailing my arms as I searched for the gardeners. I made eye contact with one and screamed “Your f***ing lawnmower!” He didn’t respond. I reached for the lacrosse ball to throw it back at him in retaliation, but just as I was about to grab it, I heard a voice. “Do you need medical attention?” I looked up. The fit woman in the bright-pink hat and camouflage tank top and her young daughter were standing over me. She spoke in a calm, measured voice, like a first responder. “My daughter heard you screaming.”

I wobbled to one knee, pointed toward the gardeners and cried: “I was just hit in the…” and then I noticed the little girl, staring at me like I was a madman. I quickly changed my story and said, “I was just hit in the stomach with a lacrosse ball.” Thinking I had acted like a true gentleman, the mother and daughter looked at me like I was even crazier — and a liar to boot. There was no mark on my stomach.

I started texting the cocky 20-something to cancel our tennis match, but I stopped again. This excuse was too absurd. I had to play.

Humiliated, I told them I was okay and began gingerly walking off the track. I threw the ball in the garbage and started to leave. But then I stopped and looked back. How would anyone believe this story? So, I fished the jagged rubber projectile out of the garbage and staggered toward my car. I started texting the cocky 20-something to cancel our tennis match, but I stopped again. This excuse was too absurd. I had to play.

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Little did I know that a few hours later, I would end up in an endless match and that my heavyset, former college-football-playing, Millennial opponent would cramp up and crumble to the clay court. He lay there, as I had on the track, only with more of a chicken-paprika glow to him. Despite the ignominy, he insisted on continuing but wound up only compounding his humiliation by projectile vomiting not once but twice. His final tsunami heave came right smack in the middle of our second-set tiebreaker. However, being more than 20 years my junior, he refused to default (that’s a story for another time). Until then, I plan to continue my midlife sports career — with proper athletic protection, of course.

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