(WSVN) - A South Florida man is proving you are never too old to try new things. He and his tennis-loving family are trying their backhand in an international competition. Kevin Ozebek has tonight’s 7 Spotlight.
Any day is a good day for 81-year-old Joe Schwartz … as long as he gets to hit the court.
Joe Schwartz: “I’m playing every day a little bit and being able to stay active, you know, and that’s what we do.”
Joe has been playing tennis for most of his life, but now he’s doing more than just playing to stay active.
He is training for one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world: the 21st Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Joe Schwartz: “How cool is that, to meet people from all over the world? And you’ll be playing other athletes, Jewish athletes from all over the world.”
The Maccabiah Games is the world’s largest competition for Jewish athletes. Eighty countries are represented, with athletes competing in 47 sports.
Joe will compete for Team USA in the 80+ tennis division at the games in July.
He’ll be joined by a couple of familiar faces. His sons, Todd and Jason, will also play tennis for Team USA.
Todd Schwartz: “I got on the phone and called my – both, brother and my father, and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this. Why don’t you guys do this? And let’s, most importantly, try to do it together?'”
Joe was a little hesitant at first.
Joe Schwartz: “‘I’ll do it, but I’ll be your coach. I won’t play in it or anything like that.’ And then Todd says back, ‘Well, Dad, you know, why not you?'”
That question made him think, and eventually, say yes.
Joe Schwartz: “You’re going to wish that you’ve maybe had an opportunity to do something, and you didn’t do it. When you turn back and look back in time, why didn’t I?”
The family started the qualifying process last summer. Jason says winning a spot on Team USA is an overwhelming feeling.
Jason Schwartz: “I mean, you get this good feeling in your heart that you could do something together as a family, something that we all love to do and we’ve done most of our lives.”
The excitement of making the team is now making way for the reality of competition.
Jason Schwartz: “The goal is to try to win a medal.”
And that does not come without plenty of training.
Todd Schwartz: “Playing tennis four to five days a week, going to the gym three days a week. A lot more goes into it than what we think of just hitting some balls on a tennis court.”
While both hope to win in their respective divisions, they each agree there is something more important, and that is the opportunity to represent their country, and their faith, together as a family.
Joe Schwartz: “Walking into a stadium with thousands of people cheering, cheering you on, I mean, with your family? It doesn’t get any better than that.”
While the Schwartz family trains for the games, they are also raising money for Team USA. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
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