ARLINGTON, Va. — At a small gym in the Langston Brown Community Center, the atmosphere is full of the squeak of shoes and good-natured heckling of pickup basketball, a bunch of women ranging in age from 40 to 75-plus stays on the sidelines.
Dressed in varying basketball jersey design patterns, they are not fans here to watch; they’re here to play.
Who’s got next? For an hour each Wednesday night, this where Helen White among other elderly ladies compete in the Arlington County Senior Women’s Basketball program.
Yes, it may be a recreation league, but it is also some proper basketball.
Thirteen years out of its conception, White remembers the now-successful program did not take off instantly, but it currently has over 50 players on teams which compete around the nation. (Age classes are-50, 55, 60, 65, 70 and 75-plus.)
Additionally, White is a founding member and the president of theNOVA United Senior Women’s Basketball Association, which in 2007, turned into nonprofit organization.
In the 2015 National Senior Games, the Quick Fire 50+ group Finished in fourth position, the Triple Threat 55+ group finished in fifth, the Solid Gold 55+ group won a bronze medal, the Gold Mettle 60+ group and the Rebounders 65+ group both won silver medals in their age classes. The Classics 70+ group nearly attained the medal round.
Regardless of the national victory, the girls say it does not Compare to when some of these ladies visited West Point, remained in the Commandant’s house and played an exhibition match during halftime of the Army women’s match. In 2014, once the girls took the ground during halftime of a Sweet 16 NCAA match played in Old Dominion University.
The on-court advantages are great, however for all these girls, it is more than only a game.
“People become isolated as they get older,” said Barbara Porter, a regular with the Wednesday night group. “I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away is the friendships…We’re a family.”
Porter is called Fred on the court, because of Barbara being a frequent female name in the 50’s. The program had three in the exact same group, so she chose to go by Fred.
Porter began playing after her and her husband adopted a boy and girl born in Russia in 2003. She fought to connect with her son, who chose to play basketball, and captured her imagination.
Porter stated her relationship with her son is powerful, as is Her bond with her fellow opponents, on and off the court.
Comradery is a favorited word with all the players. So are ‘wellbeing’ and ‘hazard’
Simonton, who played tennis and basketball in both Ohio University and West Virginia, began playing again due to health issues and her kids. The Vienna, Va., native has been diagnosed with diabetes and stated that she just let herself go.
Her weight had increased to over 300 lbs. Simonton Hated physical exercise, despite being a physical education major in school, but at the urging of a friend began playing basketball again, two to three times every week.
“The spirit us ladies have is amazing,” Simonton stated. “We’re not as fragile as some would think, and our passion for the game still burns deep.”
THE MESSAGE: WHY NOT?
These girls are making a difference, and also the motion is beginning to actually hit its stride, with more and more elderly ladies appearing in basketball shirts on the weekly.
White says that the message she needs to relay is straightforward: Why not?
All of us have this picture of how individuals age and in many cases It is sedentary. However, elderly sports are keeping more people in the game. Many feel a need to be playing and an exceptional few such as White reasonably ask why they can’t still be doing this when they are 100 years old.
“I want to change the stereotype of people as they grow older. There’s no reason to stop playing as you get older. People get old when they stop playing.”