A t 71, Matt Makowski is pretty sure he's the oldest player at the Hartmann Inline Rink in Boulder, considering most of the people he plays hockey with are around 40 to 50 years younger than he is.

He doesn't mind, and neither do they.

"I'm an old fart," Makowski said with a laugh. "There's nobody that's my age. But I don't feel an age barrier at all."

Makowski has lived all over the world. Born in Warsaw, Poland, Makowski's family moved to France when was 4 years old. They moved to London, then to what was known as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

In Africa, Makowski and his father began rock climbing, when he was 15. Makowski attended University of Natal in South Africa, where he lived for much of his young adult life.

Then he became an instructor for Outward Bound in Colorado, leading hiking and camping expeditions for young people in the San Juan Mountains. Makowski eventually settled in Boulder, earning a master's degree from the University of Colorado in 1978. He's been in Boulder County real estate for 25 years.

When the Colorado Avalanche hockey team came to Denver in 1995, Makowski was intrigued. One day he and his family were driving around Boulder and saw a group of men on skates playing hockey in a parking lot. Makowski didn't know how to skate, but he began attending their parking-lot sessions and learned by trial and error (and falling a lot). He was 55.


He recruited his kids -- son Michael is now 25, and daughter Katherine is 27 -- who, at the time were still at home, to play with him on a team called the MakDaddies. That time in his life still brings a smile to his face as he recollects it.

At the rink, Makowski is a kid at heart. He jokes around with the 20-somethings, says teammate Laura Kriho, and the younger players look up to him.

"We call him "Magic Matt" because he's like magic when he skates," said Kriho, 48, who Makowski affectionately nicknamed "Poke Check Lady" after she stole the puck away from someone during a game.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday he plays or referees for inline hockey leagues at the Hartmann Inline Rink built in 1999. Makowski keeps his skating gear in the back of his car in case he gets the urge to skate around by himself.

When he's in his gear, stick in hand, most people don't know the difference between the septuagenarian and the rest of the team.

"He doesn't look as old as he is," says 38-year-old Jeremy King, who has played with Makowski for the last decade. "He doesn't strike you as an old guy. He fits right in. People don't back off from him or treat him differently."

Though Makowski has injured both of his shoulders while playing hockey, he doesn't plan on quitting anytime soon. As long as his body will allow it, he will keep playing.

"I love the motion and the feel and the camaraderie," Makowski said of inline skating. "I'm an adrenaline freak, I can't deny that."

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.