Can you be too old to play hockey? Not if you’re Mark Sertich, who’s as almost as old as the game itself.
By Warren Tabachnick
At 96 years of age, Sertich (or “Sertie,” as he is called by his teammates) has the distinction of being the oldest rec hockey player in the world. If that sounds too good to be true, look him up in the Guinness World Records. Mark Sertich is almost as old as the game itself.
Sertich, who sports a handlebar mustache, hails from Duluth, Minn. He suits up for hockey 2 to 3 times a week, in a rec hockey league consisting mostly of younger firefighters. And according to those fortunate enough to be on the ice alongside him, he’s a pretty damn good hockey player to boot. He shows great hustle, sending out some nice passes and harassing opponents with equal vigor.
Sertich was once extended an invitation to skate with the Minnesota Wild, in recognition of his longstanding commitment to the game of hockey. He has competed in the Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament, an event originally founded by Peanuts creator Charles Schultz (himself a hockey player who took to the ice well into his golden years).
In 1975, Schultz formed the tournament at his Redwood Empire Ice Arena, located in Santa Rosa, Calif. Teams travel from around the world to compete in the event, a week-long celebration of sportsmanship, camaraderie and seriously competitive hockey.
According to Sertich, he has been playing the sport his entire life. He says he’s got 85 years of ice time under his belt, having first played the game in 1931. Sertich says what keeps him playing are three things: his genetics; a healthy diet; and of course a regular exercise regimen. In fact, to this day Sertich does sit-ups, pushups, and stretching, as well as numerous chores around his home that are often hard to handle for persons half his age.
Sertich maintains he only really got serious about the game when he turned 80. He says he loves how the game allows him to connect with people who are much younger. What’s more, he often scores more goals each game that anyone else on the ice.
The oldest rec hockey player in the world has no plans to hang up his skates, and is hoping to play at least until he turns 100. What is most important for him is maintaining a positive attitude. “Hockey is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he says.
Words rec hockey players of all ages can live by. Watch him in action below.