Mike Wells admits he thought that perhaps his time had passed.
A longtime practitioner of the sport of handball, the Minnesota State University professor had entered numerous national tournaments and never won a singles title. He’d come close, but first place always eluded him.
Late last month he was entered in another national tourney and was not optimistic. Although he had stepped up his training, he tweaked his shoulder about three weeks before the event and was unable to get on the court to actually play during that time.
So what happened when the 47-year-old handball player ventured to Minneapolis to compete in the 45-plus Masters bracket? Well ... he not only won his first singles title but came back with a doubles national championship as well.
“I think those three weeks away from the court may have actually helped,” Wells said. “I was still working out on the treadmill and doing some weight training, but I just felt fresher when I got to the tournament.”
As for wondering if his best chances for a title were in the rearview mirror, he had pretty good reason to be concerned. Also an avid fastpitch softball player, Wells competed for years on the high-powered Junker’s men’s fastpitch team in the 1990s and early 2000s. The team finished second a few times, but the first-place trophy proved elusive.
“It seemed as though we were destined to always be bridesmaids,” Wells said.
In 2002, the Junker’s fastpitch team folded so Wells joined the Kegel Black Knights out of Fargo, N.D. In 2003, that team went won the North American Fastpitch Association’s Open World Series Championship.
“I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I never gave up hope in handball,” Wells said. “If you stick to it and work hard, good things can happen.”