Sure, it’s never too late to go back to school. But, to go back to school and play college sports? Perhaps there’s no limit to that either. Look no further than 61-year-old Don Byers, a grandfather, insurance agent and the only freshman on Bellevue University’s men’s golf team, making him one of the oldest college athletes in history.
The college bound 1-handicapper from Nebraska was recruited by Bellevue University head coach Rob Brown, who first met Byers over the summer during a round of golf.
“I just see a great golfer and an outstanding athlete,” Brown told Golf Digest. “He knows the game, has incredible hitting power, and shows finesse on the greens. We’re fortunate to have recruited him.”
This isn’t Byers’ first stint as a college athlete. According to WOWT 6 News, more than 40 years ago, he played baseball but blew out his shoulder and lost his scholarship. So, he left school to enter the workforce and begin a successful career in the insurance business.
Wanting to go back to school to earn his college degree, he never thought he’d be eyeing a national championship along with his diploma.
His eligibility isn’t an issue because Bellevue competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which allows full-time students five years to complete their four years of eligibility in collegiate sports.
Byers will begin his first semester this spring. As for his friends’ reactions?
“Nobody believes me, they all laugh,” Byers told WOWT 6 News. “Then when they find out it’s for real, they say go on your bucket list, live your dream.”
The team’s first tournament is in March in Las Vegas, and Byers is ready to go.
“There are only so many spots on the team,” Byers said. “I’ve told them [teammates], my hay day was 40 years ago. These kids are trying to get to the next level so I really admire them. I’m not trying to steal their press or anything, just having a lot of fun with them and hopefully I can help them out.”
Talk about proof that dreams don’t have to die. Rather, they can morph and take shape in different forms.