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By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Catherine E. Toth
Dustin Sellers is only 37, but his teammates on the Honolulu Bulls Soccer Club call him Grandpa.
That's because he's the oldest player by 12 years.
"The kids I play with now have so much overall talent," said Sellers, who's been playing soccer competitively for 32 years, and continues striving to hold his own. "It's one of the things that motivates me."
Not that Sellers really has anything to worry about. His extensive experience playing the sport on all levels from neighborhood leagues to semi-professional teams gives him a serious edge.
Sellers started playing soccer in 1976 with the American Youth Soccer Organization.
"It's a rare blend of aerobic and anaerobic (exercise)," Sellers said. "It's a very, very physical sport. If you've played it, you'd know the number of stitches and cracked ribs."
Sellers played soccer at Punahou School, where he earned MVP honors at the 1986 state tournament, and continued competing while a student at the University of Southern California.
After graduating with a business degree in 1991, he returned to O'ahu and played on the Sprint Tsunami team for a few years.
"It was a whole lot of fun because there was a lot of hoopla (around the team)," he said. "But we pretty much sucked."
Sellers went on to play for two semi-professional teams in California the L.A. Exiles, owned by musician Rod Stewart, and the San Francisco Celtics.
"Playing in the majors was phenomenal," Sellers said.
In 1996 Major League Soccer in the U.S. began. But Sellers, who was about 27 then, never had any ambition to join.
"By the time you're 23 or 24, you're pretty much out of competition," he said.
Age is slowly creeping up on Sellers.
When he turned 30, he realized his body was not as resilient as it used to be.
At 31, he pulled his hamstring a couple of times.
At 35, he felt his metabolism slowing down.
And now, for the first time in his life, what he eats rather, how much he eats is starting to matter.
"It's all about portion control," he said. "I don't eat great, but I don't eat a lot."
Competing with and against younger, talented players has definitely been a motivator for Sellers. But as any thirtysomething can attest, it's frustrating as well.
"There's no way to deny that your mind is still there, it's right there," Sellers said. "To know you can make a play and not be able to do it is a little bit debilitating. But I give my coaches a lot of credit. They're cool and understanding about where I'm at and that I can still add some value (to the team)."
What's more challenging than keeping up with the younger players is finding time to stay in shape.
Aside from running his own company, ProService Hawaii, Sellers is married with three active kids, each of whom play sports. (His 8-year-old son, Maxx, plays soccer for the same club as Sellers.)
Sellers juggles 10-hour days at the office with weekends packed with soccer and basketball games, while finding time to fit in his own workouts.
Soccer, he said, is his release.
"The only way I know how to release stress is to play competitive sports," he said. "And soccer continues to challenge me."
STAYING IN SHAPE
Workout habits: In addition to playing soccer every Sunday, Sellers runs at night when his three kids are in bed, never more than 10 miles at a time. He does 100 sit-ups every morning. And he tries to surf whenever he can.
When and why he started working out: Growing up in Kahala, Sellers was always active. He started playing soccer in one of the first seasons of the American Youth Soccer Organization in Hawai'i. "I hated it at first," he said, laughing. Sellers also played baseball, basketball and tennis. He even picked up windsurfing. But soccer stuck. Sellers continued playing through college and enjoyed two stints in semi-pro leagues. He still plays soccer competitively.
Biggest motivator: "Knowing I have a game to play tomorrow," Sellers said.
Biggest obstacle: Juggling his workouts with a demanding job and three kids who all play sports, too.
Good foods/bad foods: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a mainstay, he said. He also likes to eat papayas. But his downfall: "Those french fries at The Shack I always seem to order after a few beers," he said.
What saves his sanity: "My wife understanding how badly I need to play soccer each weekend," Seller said.
Advice for others: "Make time for your health," he said.
Reach Catherine E. Toth at email@example.com.