Can you be too old to play hockey? Not if you’re Mark Sertich, who was almost as old as the game itself.
By Warren Tabachnick
At 99 years of age, Sertich (or “Sertie,” as he was called by his teammates) had 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 was almost as old as the game itself.
Mark Sertich passed away on August 24, 2020, from complications due to a stroke. He was 99. Known as the world’s oldest hockey player, he was still skating right up until his birthday in July 2020. Sertich holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest hockey player.
Sertich, who had sported a handlebar mustache, hailed from Duluth, Minn. He suited 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 have been on the ice alongside him, he was a pretty damn good hockey player to boot. He showed 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 had 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 had been playing the sport his entire life. He once said he got 85 years of ice time under his belt, having first played the game in 1931. Sertich said what kept him playing were three things: his genetics; a healthy diet; and of course a regular exercise regimen. In fact, up until a few years ago Sertich had done 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 maintained he only really got serious about the game when he turned 80. He said he loved how the game allowed him to connect with people who were much younger than him. What’s more, he often scored more goals each game that anyone else on the ice.
The oldest rec hockey player in the world had hoped to play at least until he turned 100. What was most important for him was maintaining a positive attitude. “Hockey is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said. Sadly, he died just one year before realizing his wish.
Sertich was an inspiration for rec hockey players of all ages. See him in action below.
CrossIceHockey.com is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.