By Brandon Judeh
Pat Kerrigan has been playing volleyball for nearly 40 years.
The 63-year-old former Youngstown municpal judge will be competing with his teammates against 17 other teams from around the United States in volleyball during the National Senior Games in Cleveland, which run from Friday through Aug. 1.
Kerrigan, the middle hitter for the Ohio team, has competed in the Senior Games twice, but says this year he feels his team should be favored to reach the finals.
“As a team, we feel good about our chances and feel we can reach the finals,” Kerrigan said. “We have played a lot of volleyball together and I know this will be some of the best competition we have ever played against.”
Kerrigan says the best way to describe his style of play is “aggressive.” He credits his fast, hard-nosed play to his workout regime.
“I exercise at the Youngstown YMCA daily and am constantly trying to improve my physical health and stamina,” Kerrigan said. “A lot of guys my age start slowing down, but I want to stay in shape as long as I can and keep playing at this level.”
Kerrigan’s volleyball career begun in the 1970s while in Columbus when he joined the Attorney General’s Office coed league, but his career really took off in 1979 when he started playing at the Youngstown YMCA.
“That’s when I started to get serious about the game, I got to play with and against a ton of talented players and coaches. We ended up winning a lot of tournaments and even won the National YMCA tournament,” Kerrigan said.
“Some of my best memories are from playing at the Y.”
Perhaps one of the greatest things about playing volleyball is the fact that it has become an escape.
He says that often times he and his teammates don’t even know each other’s last names or careers, because when they are out on the court, they spend their time talking about the game they love.
“It was great because no one knew that I was a judge, it was a nice escape for me,” Kerrigan said. “We’re all just a bunch of like minded people that like to hit the court and play volleyball for hours at a time.”
Kerrigan is a former 10-year municipal court judge who was sentenced in 1998 to 30 months in federal prison for three counts of affecting interstate commerce by extortion — accepting a trip to Florida from health care providers, accepting $400 not due to him or his office, and obtaining $250 and property, lumber and building materials not due him or his office.
Kerrigan sees the Senior Games as an opportunity for people to come see great competition.
“It’s going to be fun, not just to compete, but also to watch the level of competition. All of these teams have won at some level in their respective state so we will be seeing the best of the best,” Kerrigan said.
“I’m excited to see people in my age group out there playing and doing the things that they love.”
There are nearly 11,000 athletes age 50 and older, roughly the same number of athletes who competed in the London Olympics, competing over a two week period in various sports.
For more information on the National Senior Games, visit nsga.com.