It’s Never Too Late is a collection about individuals who resolve to pursue their goals on their very own phrases.

At 86, Mark Braly would be the world’s oldest water polo participant. And in keeping with Mr. Braly, a Texas native who now lives in Davis, Calif., he’s “certainly the worst.” That could or might not be true, however taking part in the game continues to be a formidable accomplishment for somebody who got here to the sport at 76: Water polo, which is performed with two seven-member groups, is a difficult one, requiring vital talents, each cardio (for endurance) and anaerobic (for sprints).

Mr. Braly says he loves the camaraderie as a lot as he does the game. Currently, his coed teammates encompass 40 gamers. Just a few are of their 20s; many of the others vary from their 30s by center age. Sometimes the workforce could be discovered bonding, postgame, at a neighborhood pizza restaurant or gathering for an important day.

“I sometimes make goals, but there is always the suspicion they were the gift of a kind goalie,” Mr. Braly mentioned. “Every player in the region knows my name because they have to shout constant directions.”

Mr. Braly compares water polo to basketball — however within the water. “You’re throwing the ball around and you have a goal cage,” he mentioned. “I’m swimming hard when we’re defending, and when I have to guard people, I try to pick out other weak players. I have yet to block anyone.”

From his 20s by his 60s, when he retired from his place as a undertaking supervisor for the U.S. Office of Economic Adjustment (now referred to as the Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation), Mr. Braly held plenty of jobs: reporter for The Houston Press, publicist at Capitol Records (“I thought the Beach Boys had no future”), director of the power workplace for former Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles and a overseas service officer for the United States Information Agency (now defunct).

Despite all of that, Mr. Braly mentioned, “of all the experiences I’ve had, water polo has been the greatest adventure.”

Regardless of his self-evaluation as a participant, he conjures up his teammates. “To start something as intimidating as water polo at 76 and to stay at it is impressive,” mentioned Paul Olalde, 31, an IT marketing consultant who lives in Sacramento, Calif., and has been taking part in with Mr. Braly since he was 19. “He’s a staple to the program.”

Mr. Braly retains up by swimming 40 minutes, 5 instances per week, on high of the twice-weekly, 90-minute water polo matches, that are normally performed on the Schaal Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of California, Davis.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

How did you first get entangled in water polo?

I needed an alternative choice to swimming. We didn’t have water polo in Texas after I was in highschool, and till my late, pricey good friend and swim coach, Ross Yancher, launched me to it 10 years in the past, I’m undecided I’d ever seen a sport. He gave me a ball and confirmed me tips on how to make a shot on the objective. I used to be hooked. When he moved to the West Sacramento swimming pool, he invited me to hitch a masters water polo membership he was organizing.

Why water polo?

Growing up, I needed to be athletic and wasn’t. Water polo provides me a sense that I can do sports activities though I’m not good at them. And I’ve made great mates. It makes me really feel appreciated and supported, two issues I didn’t obtain in my earlier jobs.

What do you like concerning the sport?

It’s an thrilling, thrilling sport. I like watching it as a lot as I like taking part in it. I like that it’s a tough sport — you by no means know what’s going to occur subsequent, and that encourages me to maintain taking part in. And I like being within the water. I’ve a weak hip. I’ve had two knee replacements. All of my illnesses are lessened within the water. It provides me a freedom I don’t in any other case have.

What is it prefer to be the oldest particular person on the workforce?

I’m proven respect. It makes me really feel particular. I want I had began this sport after I was youthful. I’m grateful for the ten years I’ve had. I do know my time doing that is restricted; I attempt not to consider that. When I look again, I will likely be remembered by the individuals who performed with me, and that’s particular as nicely.

What have you ever discovered about your self by the game?

That I can settle for reward and assist and never really feel diminished by it. That I can do nearly something if I don’t thoughts not being good it. Being pressured to be good at one thing has excluded me from doing issues all my life. I discovered I’m extra succesful and have a higher stamina than I believed.

Where does your dedication come from?

My dad. He was athlete and performed semipro baseball for room and board in small cities in Texas within the Twenties. He was an electrician who served in World War I and World War II. I noticed and internalized his dedication. He was a younger father within the Depression, and it was actually laborious to get work and assist a younger household, however he did. I admired that he might climb phone poles or orange timber. He remained match for thus lengthy in life due to all of the train he acquired.

You mentioned you’re thought-about an inspiration for youthful gamers. How so?

Younger gamers doubt they’ll play for much longer. Seeing me nonetheless at it, at my age, is reassuring to them. It additionally makes me really feel I’m giving again and setting instance for my teammates and others who haven’t found the sport but.

How have the chums you’ve made by this sport affected your life?

It’s been great to share this distinctive bond that we now have in widespread and unites us. I felt like I didn’t belong a lot of my life. I don’t really feel that method right here with these individuals. They symbolize an acceptance I’ve been lacking.

How else are you concerned within the sport?

For the previous 10 years I’ve been writing a month-to-month column for the Davis Enterprise, a neighborhood newspaper, about water polo and masters swimming. People cease me and inform me that they learn my column and that’s been nice. It makes me really feel like I’m doing one thing worthwhile with my retirement. I like to succeed in different older individuals and allow them to know swimming is sweet experience for them.

What recommendation do you will have for many who need to attempt a brand new sport or athletic endeavor?

I’m an enormous believer in train. It extends and improves the standard of your life. Almost any metropolis or neighborhood has a senior middle which can supply totally different applications and lessons. Look for one thing you would possibly like. Don’t fear about being good at it, simply take into consideration the nice you’re doing for your self.