At South County Center activity, members spike, bump and volley


Jeannette Adler, 59, of Edgewater, spikes, bumps and volleys each Wednesday at the South County Senior Center in Edgewater.

Ms. Adler, who has played league volleyball for 10 years, spends time each week honing her skills with the senior center's newly formed volleyball team.

"I thought it would be great to play with people my own age," she said, "and with people a little closer to home."

Ms. Adler, one of only four women on the team, has attended a volleyball training camp and plays on three other co-ed league teams in the county.

She said she likes the sport because it's a game requiring constant movement and a good sense of team togetherness and spirit.

Center director Mary Ann Cheers, a fan of volleyball herself, advertised for players in the hope of escaping the "traditional" and often low-impact senior activities senior centers typically offer.

"I wanted to try to reach a younger senior audience," she said.

Ms. Cheers said response has been great. "The gang has really come together," she said. "It's really amazing how their skills have improved."

Alfred Zucchi, 63, of Glen Burnie, helps senior novices in the sport.

"Some of the people who come in can't even hit the ball, so we [he and Roger Van Horn, 59], try to show them how to handle the ball, hit the ball and pass the ball.

Mr. Zucchi has played what he calls "highly competitive ball" with Westinghouse, his former employer, for nearly 10 years and has had volleyball training at Glen Burnie High School. His practice at the center is helping to prepare him for the Senior Olympics in Towson.

Because the play is unofficiated, he said, a policy of "anything goes" is practiced at the center. But with time, and the help of his friend and Westinghouse cohort, Mr. Van Horn, he hopes to change that.

Mr. Van Horn, of Arnold, has played volleyball for more than 20 years and considers himself a die-hard fan. "It's a lot of movement," he said, "and very aerobic. But as long as I can play, I will."

He and Mr. Zucchi arrive at the center early each Wednesday, set up the net and begin practicing "bumping," or hitting the ball back in forth in a close circle. Later, after the arrival of six or more seniors, teams are chosen and play begins.

"It's such good exercise," said Mr. Van Horn, "that you leave good soakin' wet."

The South County Senior Center is the only senior center in Anne Arundel County that offers indoor volleyball for those over 50.

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