In White Bear Lake, we love our traditions, and a group of men are devoted to carrying on their own tradition—playing handball.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the White Bear Lake YMCA, they meet to play the sport they love. About six to 12 players show up to play, with a core group of about 25 active players, says Bob Goff, a longtime member of the group. “I would guess that our average age is 70-plus years. It’s quite an outstanding group, mainly retirees and many professionals. We have engineers, architects, business owners, teachers, a surgeon and others,” says Goff, a retired 3M engineer.
“We have three players over 80. Ted Bergstrom is our most senior player at 89 years old, and our youngest member is in his 40s,” says Goff.
Bergstrom has been part of the group since about 1965. He and a friend were planning a ski trip and lamented that they were no longer at their top level of fitness, since they had not been as active as they had been when they were younger, before they were pursuing advanced degrees and raising families. They decided to play handball as a way to condition their legs. Bergstrom eventually advanced to the state competition, and later to the national tournaments. He also taught a course in handball at the University of Minnesota for several years.
Handball helps keep players active and fit, says Goff, and the group also provides a sense of community.
After the game, the group gathers for coffee, “where we solve the problems of the world,” says Goff. The group welcomes new players.