At 81, Thomasville man reaches athletic goals

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. (AP) — As a child and teenager, Reggie Bayse dreamed of having the time to play football, basketball, baseball and other sports with community leagues and in school.

But as the son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister, his time was needed more by his family working a job to help support the family than as an athlete. Now, at 81, Bayse indulges those dreams of being an athlete as a participant in the annual Lexington/Davidson County/Thomasville Senior Games and the N.C. Senior Games State Finals. He’s not just participating, either. He is winning and he has the medals to prove it.

This September at the State Finals, he won two gold medals in the shot put and football throws, a silver medal in horseshoes and a bronze medal in the softball throw.

“I’ve always liked sports,” said the Virginia native, who moved to Wilmington in the second grade and finally landed in Thomasville while in junior high school. “I pitched horseshoes when I was a child. I played baseball when I was in grammar school, but I had to work. I’ve delivered newspapers and worked at a grocery store. I worked about anything when I was younger. We were not rich by any means. When my father was called to be a minister, the church in Wilmington wasn’t even paying him a salary.”

Bayse moved to Greensboro with his family during his high school years, and the basketball coach wanted him to play. But again, the needs of the family trumped his desire to play sports.

So years later when he and wife Helen, a Thomasville native, had three sons, he wanted to be sure they had the opportunity to play all the sports they wanted. All three, Reggie Jr., John and Mark, were top wrestlers at Thomasville High School. Each received the most valuable player award their senior year on the team.

What Bayse recalls most fondly from those years is working out with his sons. He would run three to four miles a day with them and do weight training.

“They wanted to beat their old man,” he said with a laugh. “Eventually they could. I wanted them to have the opportunity I didn’t. We had a lot of fun.”

He kept up that mind-set of staying fit throughout his life with regular exercise. Today, he works out three days a week at Triad Fitness in Thomasville.

“I practice hard for the Senior Games,” he said. “I used to lift (free weights). Now I do Nautilus and I get on the elliptical.”

Although he has suffered two heart attacks, he believes without the exercise in his life for so long, the outcome may have been fatal. His recovery periods were minimal with doctors amazed at how quickly he got on a treadmill and how long he could stay on after his heart attacks.

“It’s a challenge for me,” he said of the Senior Games.

Bayse said he would encourage all seniors in the county to take part in some way in the Senior Games. Even if you are not athletically inclined, there are performing arts and creative arts events in the Senior Games, too.

“This has really been fun going to Raleigh to compete,” he said. “I really enjoy myself. I like going out with the group. We eat together and fellowship together. I support them and they support me. Rodney (Queen) is a great coordinator for the games.

Queen thinks just as highly of Bayse.

“Reggie is a good guy,” Queen said. “He is a great guy. He has a heart of gold.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.  (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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