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Scappoose's Golden Boy

Frank Weber wins four golds at Washington Senior Games

JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Scappoose resident Frank Weber, 91, wears all four of his gold medals won at the 2015 Washington State Senior Games on July 25. Weber's home is a treasure trove of Navy artifacts, where decades of naval history and 10 years of athletic success at senior games both local and national run together. When most people choose to pick up a sport later in life, the reason is usually to stay in shape and keep up their health. Seniors play golf, they play bocce, they bowl.

But not Frank Weber. The 91-year-old Scappoose resident didn't need sports to remain healthy, and it wasn't to call up memories of the good old days. He did it simply because he could.

“I never participated in anything till I was 81,” Weber said on Tuesday. “My doctor in St. Helens got me started. Doctor [Gary] Loosli. I went down for a physical, and he said, 'You ought to participate in sports. You're in pretty good shape.'”

A decade of victories later, Weber is still bringing home gold medals. He won four golds on Saturday, July 25 at the Washington State Senior Games in his division, 90-94, taking first place in discus, shot put, javelin and softball throw.

The marks might not seem wildly impressive by the standards of younger athletes, but consider this: Weber never competed in sports during his high school days, all of which came pre-World War II.

Weber's many medals blend in with his treasure trove of collector's items from his days in the U.S. Navy, filling three large drawers in a back room in his house. It's a room decorated by hundreds of hats from Navy ships dating back several decades.

“We played ball when we got to one of the islands, you know,” he recalled, thinking back to his few experiences as a young athlete in the Navy when baseball was a favorite activity when on shore leave. “Whenever we'd go on liberty we'd play ball if it was possible. If you went on liberty in the states you didn't, but in the islands we used to play ball all the time.”

The senior athlete proudly displayed each of the medals around his neck, for a moment forgetting that the loudest doubts don't come from his peers.

“I do that myself,” he said. “I just tell myself I don't want no broken bones, now. At my age, I don't need any.”

High-flying events like pole vault — the men's competition had athletes up to the 80-84 division — are out of the question, which is understandable. The Washington games offer everything from swimming to table tennis, cowboy action shooting to volleyball. Weber said he has his eye on running events at some point, but needs someone to show him how to train while still staying safe.

For his throwing events, Weber has gotten some assistance. For the last several years, he's trained at Scappoose High School with a coach on hand in the weight room should he have any questions.

“I do the curls, I do the weight for the lats, I do lift ups with my legs for strength, and I guess that's about it,” Weber said, demonstrating exercises as he named them off. “Oh, and I do one for the biceps.”

Weber said he'll be taking a break until October now that the Washington games are complete. Training begins for the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah this fall. School will be in session, meaning Weber won't be the only athlete training in the weight room — he'll be alongside the high school football and soccer players, an experience he said he's gotten used to.

“They all say hello and all that, but we don't carry on a conversation,” Weber said. “I just get in there and do my thing and leave, and they do theirs.”

His current focus will be revamping his discus throw, changing the motion from his arm to his hip. He took a moment to demonstrate the proper form, the medals still dangling from around his neck.

The competition, he said, is as much his reason for going back as anything else. And it's to a fair amount of success: Countless medals and friendships founded over the years, as he continues to see familiar faces at competitions.

“There's a lot of repeats that come up there, and then there always seems to be one or two new ones that you see,” Weber said. “This one guy that I compete with mostly, he lives up in the Lacey area, and he just turned 95.”

Athletes move up in divisions five years at a time, beginning at 50 until they reach the open division for athletes over 100 years old. The Washington games had a handful of centenarians and a few athletes in the 95-99 range, but not many.

Weber admits he can't throw as far as he used to, which is to be expected. But he doesn't have any plans to retire. Instead, he said, he'll be competing “'till I can't do it no more.”