When Donald Moffat of Largo began playing tennis at age 51, he did not imagine that eight years later he would be competing with 137 other top tennis players ages 55 to 59 in the U.S. National Senior Sports Classic IV.
It all began in November 1992, when Moffat entered and won the tennis event in the Good Life Games, a mental, physical and recreational competition for adults age 55 and older, held each year in Pinellas County. Moffat's win qualified him for the nationals in Baton Rouge, La., in June 1993.
"I figured I'd take a little vacation and have a little fun," he said.
He won the silver medal.
"I was very surprised at the outcome," Moffat said, "I just kept winning and winning until pretty soon I was playing for the gold."
Moffat, now 60, is again entering the Good Life Games, which will be Nov. 12-20. Competitors will be trying to qualify for the Florida Senior Games State Championship in Bradenton. Those winners will advance to the 1995 U.S. National Senior Sports Classic V in San Antonio, Texas, in May.
Moffat and others are training like Olympians for the competition. Moffat plays tennis a few hours a couple of times a day.
"I'm feeling very strong," he said. "I want to have a good shot at winning the nationals this time."
Held for 15 years in Pinellas County, the Good Life Games will attract about 1,700 participants from more than 75 Florida cities and more than 20 states. Participants will compete for gold medals in 34 events.
Whether for exercise, fun or competition, the games are just one facet of what has come to be known as the Good Life Celebration, a nine-day festival that includes an expo, a social and countywide festivities.
The festival begins Nov. 12 with the Good Life Expo at the Coliseum and the Sunshine Center in St. Petersburg.
An arts and crafts festival, a karaoke contest and special exhibits for seniors will be featured. Parking and admission are free.
A detailed schedule of events, map, game information and entry form for the Good Life Games may be obtained at any Pinellas County Barnett Bank, offices of the St. Petersburg Times, all event locations and related recreational and senior service centers. Entry forms must be postmarked no later than Nov. 1. Anyone age 55 or older by Dec. 31 is eligible to enter. A onetime entry fee of $12 includes entry into one or more events plus a commemorative T-shirt. Games entry fee without the T-shirt is $8. Proceeds will benefit Neighborly Senior Services.