Thursday, April 14, 2011

You're Never Too Old To Play

This post is brought to you as part of Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.  Click the button on the right to join the fun.

I have in my possession pictures and newspaper clippings of my Aunt Carolyn and her 3-on-3 basketball team.  In 2005 they were preparing for the Tennessee Senior Games and made the front page of the sports section in the local paper.  The large color picture was of Aunt Carolyn getting ready to shoot the basketball.  My parents were at the game and my dad (who is my aunt’s baby brother) said, “It just wore me out watching them.”   At the time, my aunt was 73 years old!

Since then her team, The Tennessee Bulldogs, won the championship at the Senior National Games in 2009 and two state championships in a row (the last of which was against a 70-74 year-old-team).  They have earned the right to compete in the 2011 Senior National Games in Houston, TX.

The Tennessee Bulldogs recently won the state gold medal in the 75-79-year-old 3-on-3 basketball division. Local members of the team are, from left, Wanda Shanks, Carolyn Lance, Jo An Cantrell, Coach Dewey Cantrell and Blanche Cook. – Southern Standard on August 4, 2010

Aunt Carolyn has discovered that you are never too old to play.   She was a high school basketball star but married and raised a family instead of going to college on a basketball scholarship.  She spent her years raising beautiful daughters and working for others.  When I asked her what she did to occupy her retirement years and she said “whatever I want.”  Her love of basketball didn’t waver over the decades and now she plays a couple days a week with her teammates.

And you know what?  She looks younger and more alive than I feel sometimes.  Play is not only good for the body; it’s good for the soul.  Remember when you were little and wrapped up in playing Kick the Can or Kickball or Tag or Mother May I?  Do you remember how alive you felt?  Do you remember how free and unencumbered your life was during those moments?  Do you remember being silly just for the sake of being silly?  Or are you too removed from those days and burdened with the cares and responsibilities of your current life to remember?

I’m afraid I have a hard time remembering feeling that alive and free.  Grownups don’t play very much.  Oh, we have sports activities we involve ourselves in, but it’s much more competitive than pure play.  We don’t play just for the joy of playing.  I’ve heard that it is crucial to a child’s development to have several hours a week of unstructured play time.  Maybe it is also crucial to a grown-up’s on-going development.  My Aunt Carolyn doesn’t look, act or feel like she’s in her late 70’s and yet I know people decades younger who do.

Find a child and play for the sheer joy of playing.  If you don’t have one of your own handy, volunteer your time at a shelter or with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or watch a friend’s child for an afternoon.  Run and laugh and be silly.  It’s good for you, body and soul.

“You have filled my heart with greater joy...”  Psalms 4:7a [NIV]


  1. This is great advice, and I am filled with admiration for your aunt. As far as I'm concerned, she is one cool lady!


  2. Yea for your Aunt Carolyn! She will always be young at heart!!

  3. Woo hoo she's a hoot! Age is just a number and you are as old as you feel!!~Ames

  4. What a wonderful post! Truly we do need to remember to play instead of always being so mature and responsible.

  5. alive and free like a young child....yes, I remember that feeling.
    Aunt Carolyn is awesome!

  6. I think I love your Aunt Carolyn. I still 'play' and it irritates my parents no end. "Will you ever grow up?" they ask in disgust and dismay, and I reply, "I really hope not!"

    I think reasons like this are why I'm not the favorite daughter in the family.


    Thanks for this uplifting and wonderful link to Alphabet Soup!