Larry Pauley lets out a loud grunt as he hurls a softball through the air. He expressed concern that the day’s earlier rain showers would affect his throw, but the slightly slick ground didn’t seem to faze him.
The ball lands 150’ 1 ½” from where it was released, securing Pauley’s third-place finish.
Pauley was one of many competing in the softball distance throw at the Audrey J. Walton Stadium for the Missouri State Senior Games, which began Friday.
Pauley is a lifetime resident of Columbia who has been competing in the Senior Games for the past 11 years. He participates in not only the softball throw, but also in the football throw, horseshoes and track and field, just to name a few.
“I started competing when I was 50, as it was the first opportunity I had to participate in sports,” he said.
A Hickman alum, Pauley said he didn’t get the chance to compete in high school athletics because of interests in other things and hardships faced due to his divorced parents.
“I’ve always liked track and field and could run fast in school, but just never had the chance to be involved in it until now,” he said.
While Pauley doesn’t train for his events, he does get a bit of practice through a softball league he participates in at the Rainbow Softball Complex. Additionally, he has been playing softball leisurely since he was 15.
“I just like to come out and do it for fun,” Pauley says.
Throughout his involvement with the Senior Games, Pauley estimates he takes home five or six medals every year, and this year he expects no different. He has already won two bronze medals, placing third in both the softball and football skills contests.
Pauley seems to be completely in his element when he is handed his awards and laughs with his friends he’s made throughout the years.
“I like the Senior Games because I have met a lot of friends through it,” he said. “It’s fun being with the same people every year and competing with them.”
Pauley also hopes to entice more Columbia residents to the Senior Games since he feels there are a lot of good, local athletes.
“This is something Columbia ought to be proud of. We have great athletes and great facilities for this event,” he said.
As for Pauley himself, he’s made a lifetime commitment to the Senior Games.
“The older you get, the more these games take a little bit more out of you each year,” he said. “I feel lucky to be able to do this. Lots of other people my age can’t because of medical problems. I’m very fortunate.”