Play ball! Yes, even in the dead of winter - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Steph Anderson

Play ball! Yes, even in the dead of winter

ROCHESTER, MN (KTTC-DT) -- If you're struggling to find ways to stay fitness-motivated this winter, and are looking for a little camaraderie, then this may be for you.

Steph says, "It's the dead middle of winter. Things like the softball season seem really far away right now. But here, at the RCTC Dome, it's game on. Play ball!"

This is where Spring Training lasts throughout all of winter.

Gordon Haubenschild, softball organizer, says, "This is the Winter Dome Softball. It's a spin-off of our Rochester, MN Senior Softball League."

It got started two years ago and rents the dome from RCTC during the winter months. All ages can play in the winter, and these non-competitive weekly winter games stress fun, fellowship, and fitness.

It's a chance to stay active during the winter, and to keep those softball skills sharp.

Or, at least work on them.

Irv Dierrdich has been playing ball since the 60s. In his 80s, he's one of the oldest in this group. And he'd never miss a game.

Irv Diderrich says, "It's in your blood. Well, ask any of these other old guys around here! It's in your blood!"

Deb Warnke is one of a handful of women who play. She saw the group as an opportunity to get back into the sport after a knee injury.

Deb Warnke says, "Everybody gets to play, everybody plays at their ability, and everyone's accepted to play."

Outdoor sports can be difficult to replicate indoors. But the Dome is massive, the lights are bright, the turf near-real, and it's a balmy 60 degrees. In other words -

Gordon says, "Near perfect. It's perfect."

Steph says, "I'm a little chilly, but I'll take your word for it."

Here, the rules are a little looser, and the jokes fly as often as the pop flys. And when they say they'll let anyone play, they really mean it.

And in the middle of a long, tiring winter, this is a home run.

The group plays once a night until about March, when they get a little more serious about training and switch to two nights a week.

While the summer session has age limits, this winter session is open to anyone.

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