CHICAGO (CBS) — Playing basketball instead of bingo? A special group of senior citizens is shattering stereotypes and having a ball along the way. Age is just a number on the basketball court for some “golden girls” in Evanston.
The Levy Senior Center in Evanston is now home to gold medalists. Seven “Globetrotting Grandmas” won their first national championship in three-on-three half court basketball in the 70-plus age group.
“I said, ‘I want you to get that gold because no one in Chicagoland got that gold in the Senior Olympic game,’ and we did it,” says basketball coach and player Miriam Koenig
Competing in the Humana Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Chicago North Stars lost their first two games before winning five straight.
“It was as if something happened that was outside of us. It wasn’t as if it was actually us,” says 72-year-old Kathryn Lamkey with a smile.
“The chemistry was good, and we believe in ourselves. And if you believe in yourself you can achieve any dream you want,” says Koenig.
The women practice two or three days every week and have no desire to slow down.
“As I said when I retired I was going to join a basketball team, and that’s exactly what I did,” says Lamkey.
“Look at their age. We’re talking about 70 years old, and they come on Tuesday, they come on Thursday, they come on Saturday just to improve their game. And I think it’s inspiration for everybody. Don’t let people tell you that you can not do it. Yes you can,” says Koenig.
“I’ve got a brace on my knee. I had a torn meniscus last fall that I had repaired. In addition, I have Parkinson’s. Our motto of our team is: She believed she could and she did. There are all kinds of things that people are going through on the team in terms of physical conditions, but they get right back out there and play some more. I think our families understand that if we die on the court, we had a good time,” says Lamkey.
The next national Senior Games will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in two years, and you can bet these ladies plan to be there to defend their title.