For Midge Ferraro, softball is more than just a game. It’s a way of life. Now 73 years old, this mainstay in masters softball can say she has been coaching for more than 5 straight decades, and is showing no sign of slowing down.
Ferraro is fierce. Her eyes dart across the diamond, calling out rotations as she demands the best from her players. She wouldn’t have you think that just because her players are over 70 years old that they shouldn’t be coached to the highest level.
“I am tough. I am not an easy coach. You can ask anybody. I am tough and I am demanding and I love every single one of them,” Ferraro told Growing Bolder’s Bill Shafer at the 2022 National Senior Games.
“[I’m tough] because these players can do more than they think they can. All they got to do is try. We have a new theme this year. It’s called ‘We win or we learn. We never lose.'”
Ferraro is known colloquially as the “mother of softball” in the largest active retirement community in the world: The Villages, Florida. Seventeen years ago, when she realized there wasn’t an organized softball team in her neighborhood, she decided to start one of her own called “The Golden Gals.”
There are now Golden Gals teams for every age group from 50 up through the 80’s in her community. These teams play every week and bring home medals by the bunches from organized sporting events like the National Senior Games.
They are a part of a health and wellbeing movement that defines communities like The Villages, where organized clubs to stay active and engaged become the core of everyday life. In fact, teams from The Villages brought home 154 medals in Fort Lauderdale, which was more than 36 total states.
For Ferraro and the Golden Gals though, playing softball isn’t about taking home a prize. It’s about a community that agrees on setting a tone for the way you live every day.
“Softball is a microcosm of life. How you are on the field, you are in your life. If you have flaws, they show up on the field and they show up in real life. This is a good way to work out those things,” Ferraro explained.
The Golden Gals’ skipper says coaching was what she was born to do. She continues to field practices 3 days a week, and in her off time, works to grow the softball program and get more residents of The Villages involved in the game she loves.
“You don’t stop playing because you’re old. You get old because you stop playing,” Ferraro says. “I’m 73 years old and having the time of my life.”