By Betsy Helfand
More than 16,000 athletes descended on Las Vegas this past September as part of Senior Softball’s 564-team World Masters.
It’s a massive undertaking for Senior Softball, one that requires a dozen complexes, 35 fields, 30 directors, 90 umpires and 200 field staff.
The World Masters ran from mid-September to early October, and age groups range from 40 to 85-plus, men and women. CEO Terry Hennessy said the oldest player in this year’s competition was 91.
The World Masters has been held in Las Vegas since 2012, and more teams come to Las Vegas than any other site, creating not only a boost for Senior Softball but also the city’s economy.
Hennessy said their economic impact report from last year showed the event infused about $23 million into the Las Vegas economy. This year, it has increased in size by about 3 percent, Hennessy said, and Las Vegas itself is a big attraction for participants, who like to bring their friends and families.
“Vegas is the key attraction, the key element to success of this tournament,” Hennessy said.
This year’s World Masters features qualifying teams from around the U.S. and Canada.
It also includes a few teams from Guam and Hennessy said their participation has been a highlight of the tournament thus far.
“I had one umpire tell me that had been umpiring for 30 years that umpiring the Guam teams … because of the excitement of the fans and the quality of the sportsmanship when they played, were the best games he’s ever umpired or officiated in (30) years and I would agree,” Hennessy said. “A couple of them, they were just fantastic to watch. The fans got into it cheering the players on the field, the sportsmanship on the field, a lot of friendships developed.”
The bonds and camaraderie developed between teammates — and even adversaries — are fairly typical for Senior Softball and one of the large parts of the attraction of the game, Hennessy said.
“We find that’s one of the driving forces of the teams staying together is the camaraderie that develops within the teams and of course these tournaments,” Hennessey said. “You meet a lot of players from all over the country, and so there’s the added benefit of getting to know and (making) new friends around the country.”
Follow on Betsy Helfand Twitter: @BetsyHelfand