From July 19 through Aug. 1, the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) hosted the fourteenth National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio. The biennial games feature 19 sports for men and women aged 50 and over and is the largest multi-sport event for seniors in the world. Competition for each sport is broken up into five-year age groups, including athletes aged 50 and over up to 100 and over.
The 2013 games featured a group in the 65 and over age bracket from Evanston’s Levy Senior Center, the Threshers, who competed in basketball as one of 25 teams in that age range. In the NSGA basketball games, teams play in a three-on-three tournament. Prior to playing in the National Games, teams are required to play in NSGA’s qualifying tournament for a chance to advance to the National Games.
After participating in the qualifying tournament and earning a 1-2 record, the Threshers were invited to play in the National Games in the A bracket (due to their record). Teams with records of 2-1 qualified for the AA bracket, and teams with records of 3-0 were in the AAA bracket.
The Threshers won the first two tournament games, beating the Randallwood Seniors (Ohio), 43-39, and the Bux-Mount Warriors (Pennsylvania), 34-32. Then they lost to the South Carolina Grays, 51-42, but bounced back and beat Code Blue (Alabama), 42-33. From there, they played the Grays in the tournament final but were unable to get past them once again, falling,53-34, which put them in second place, to earn the silver medal.
"The tournament was great. We ended up in the A bracket, which is more of a recreational-type group, and we got a silver medal in that category," said Threshers’ captain Dorrance Halverson. "Everyone was happy with the experience. This was the first time that the Levy Senior Center team has won a medal in men’s competition."
The Threshers, made up of Halverson, Dave Janzen, Bob Anthony, Bob Swedlow, Don Baker, and Tom Reilly, have utilized the Levy Senior Center as their practice facility for over 10 years. Each of the players on the team has a basketball background, whether it be coaching or playing at some level. Janzen played college basketball at Bethel College in Kansas. Baker played high school basketball at South Shore High School in Chicago. Reilly coached kids at the YMCA and coached two women’s teams who competed at the Senior Games. The others played at the high school level and enjoy playing at the Levy Senior Center.
Regarding the Levy Senior Center, Halverson said, "It is a great facility, Evanston is very lucky to have a place like this. We have used it as a practice facility for more than 10 years. We play with guys that are younger than us, some are (about) 50 years old, and some are well into their 70s." He added, "It has a great gym. The floor has some give to it so people who have weak knees, like many of us do, are still able to compete in this game."
Individuals who are interested in playing on a team from the Levy Senior Center must become members of the Center in order to play. For membership information visit www.cityofevanston.org/parks-recreation/levy-senior-center or call 847-448-8250. Those interested can find more information on the NSGA or can register to participate in an individual or team event, at www.nsga.com.