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Special to the Enquirer

No slowing down Falkville Councilman Charlie Gover adds scuba diving to active lifestyle

By Michael Wetzel

For the Enquirer

Charlie Gover isn’t about to slow down at age 70.

The former high school coach, who serves on the Falkville Town Council, has just begun taking scuba diving lessons. He’s fitting the lessons in among weightlifting, pickleball, table tennis, archery, bicycle riding, spelunking and running.

Gover said he goes out of his way to stay in good physical shape. When he’s not exercising or competing, he’s busy cutting grass and doing lawn care for extra money in his retirement.

Staying active is nothing new for Gover. He played football and basketball at West Limestone High, where he graduated in 1970. He ran track at Calhoun Community College and then Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tenn.

After college he taught at Danville High for 26 years while also serving as an offensive and defensive line coach, strength coach, cross-country coach and track coach. He later coached cross country and taught health at Sparkman High.

At Austin Peay, Gover outran several Southeastern Conference runners and set records in the indoor mile, outdoor mile and outdoor two-mile race.

An injury playing softball hurt his running times, he said, so he turned his attention to weightlifting.

At the age of 53, at a meet in Talladega, Gover said he set records in the 195-pound class. He lifted 400 pounds in the dead lift, 200 pounds in the bench press and 265 in the squat.

“I’d like to think I can do it again,” he said.

At 60, when he was teaching health at Sparkman High School, he said he was doing 55 pushups four times a day.

Gover, who is married and has adult twin daughters, said he tries to lift weights Monday, Wednesday and Friday and bicycle at least 10 miles every Tuesday and Thursday.

His high energy comes from his desire to compete – and win.

“I like to compete. It hurts me to lose,” he said. “I quit running for competition in 1995 when I finished fourth in my age division. I play to win. If I can’t win, I find another sport.”

He said he focuses on the importance of staying away from certain foods as part of his healthy routine.

“No soda, no candy,” he said. “I drink a lot of water, lemonade and Gatorade. I eat oatmeal or bananas just about every morning.

“Everybody is addicted to something. I’m lucky to be addicted to running, addicted to training. My body couldn’t handle alcohol. I try to lay off sugars – but I will visit Morgan Price Candy for chocolate once or twice a year.

“It’s important to keep moving, keep the body weight down.”

Falkville Mayor Ken Winkles said Gover, who is in his third term as a councilman, is serious about his fitness.

“When I was a police officer in Falkville about 20 years ago, I’d see him out running every day,” said Winkles, 60. “He was running in the rain, running in the snow, running in the heat. He’s so dedicated to being physically fit.”

So why has scuba diving caught Gover’s fancy lately? He said a fellow spelunker, Don Chavers, 74, of Priceville, is teaching him the basics, and Gover hopes to be certified through an area dive shop by next summer.

“I want to scuba off of Key West. That is where the gold is,” Gover said with chuckle. “It’s a great way to help me stay fit, too. It’s a good exercise for older people. It works the arms and legs and lungs.”

Gover is not, however, a complete scuba diving rookie. On vacation in 2001, he did a dive on a tour along the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Australia. The Great

Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system with nearly 3,000 reefs and 900 islands.

Gover said he also remembers attending a short scuba class in the Calhoun Community College indoor pool in 1985. Calhoun athletic director Nancy Keenum said the college closed the pool for good in the early 2000s. The college bookstore now operates where the pool was located.

Chavers said Gover is doing well after two lessons in the water. “He’s setting a good example at his age,” Chavers said. “He’s athletic, and that helps him.”

What advice does Gover offer others wanting to stay fit?

Eat berries and research the latest diet and fitness methods, he said. “Eat good, eat less and keep active.”

This article was first published in Living 50 Plus.

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