News / USA

Older American Women Play Softball, Competitively

Janet Weeks, 75, plays softball regularly at this field outside Washington along with other members of the Golden Girls, a softball organization for senior women.
Janet Weeks, 75, plays softball regularly at this field outside Washington along with other members of the Golden Girls, a softball organization for senior women.

Multimedia

June Soh

Studies show physical activity and social interaction improve the cognitive ability of older adults and delay the onset of functional limitations.  Studies also indicate it's never too late to become physically active and get those benefits. VOA's June Soh met a group of Washington area seniors who call themselves the Golden Girls, a term that has been around for a while and generally refers to women over 50.  Their activities appear to prove those studies are valid.

Janet Weeks is 75 years old. She plays softball regularly at this field outside Washington, along with other members of the Golden Girls, a softball organization for senior women.

"There was an ad in the newspaper that said 'looking for people age 50 and over to play ball.'  And I said, 'that's me,'" said Weeks.

That was 22 years ago.  Weeks is one of the 13 original Golden Girls.  Today, the group has more than 170 members.

Marilyn Mallery, 68, has been with the Golden Girls for 18 years.   She serves as its public relations officer.

"All our players have to be at least 40 years old," Mallery said.  "There is no upper limit and we have several ladies who are in their upper 70s and early 80s still playing.  We have a league consisting of four teams."

Mallery says the league has women at all skill levels.  Some of them have never played before and others have played all their lives.  But many of them are like Shirley Thompson, 74, who joined the group five years ago.

"I played it back in 1955 when I was in high school," Thompson recalled.  "I was a little nervous, but once I got out and watched the team play, and they have fun, and so I thought, 'I can do it.'  So I got new gloves, new shoes, and went out and tried it and enjoy it very much."  

Thompson also says she feels healthier than before.

"I have arthritis in my fingers… but by playing ball, I am staying active," Thompson added.  "I am using them so they do not bother me, I can still use them a lot.  And I think that is one good thing about playing ball.  It does help your arthritis from stiffing up on you."  

For more competitive players, the Golden Girls field tournament teams, that travel all over the country for games.

"At the moment, we have five tournament teams, a 50, 55, 60, 65, and 70-year-old team," noted Mallery.  "We are the only softball organization in the United States, and I am sure in the world, that can field five tournament teams simultaneously.  So it makes us very, very special."

George Hersey, a certified umpire with the Amateur Softball Association - and husband of one of the Golden Girls - is the coach.  He says the teams are very serious about their games and hate to lose.

"These girls on several occasions have won a gold medal playing softball in the Olympics, in the Senior Olympics," said Hersey.  "They have been traveling around since 1995 and been going to the Olympics ever since and they have done very well.  They have never finished lower than third place."  

But the Golden Girls say the best part is their friendship.

"I think you need to have the friends and the backing because they all back each other and help each other," Thompson explained.  "And no one gets down if you make a mistake; we all just get in there and support each other.  I think we really like it."

Every Saturday, once the weather gets warm, each team plays two games back-to-back.  Then they practice for about two hours.

"You get accustomed to it," said Weeks.  "You build up your strength.  It is hard the first two or three Saturdays and then after that you just kind of go and you get used to it. You are tired when you go home, but it is a good tired. "

Weeks says being a member of the Golden Girls has been a life changing experience. Signing up, she adds, was the best decision she ever made.

You May Like

Key Al-Shabab Commander Captured

Zakariye Ismail Hersi was captured in a raid Saturday morning in the town of El Wak near the border with Kenya More

Relations Between Pakistan, Afghanistan Key to Fighting Taliban

A Pakistani official tells VOA that anti-terrorism campaign has resulted in improved counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan More

160,000 Displaced by Flooding in Malaysia

Prime Minister Najib Razak visits hard-hit Kelantan state, announces nearly $145M in additional relief for victims More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid