Title IX was signed June 23, 1972, and celebrated its 45th-anniversary last month! Title IX is an amendment that banned sex discrimination in federally funded school programs, including sports. The law has successfully allowed women to experience and learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, physical fitness, and confidence at a young age.
Many women that are still alive today never got to benefit from Title IX. They grew up in a world where there was little or no high school and college sports programs for girls.
“We didn’t have sports like the girls do today. We didn’t have the opportunity to play. That was before Title IX. We did play softball and volleyball, but never basketball,” says 81-year-old Grace Larson.
Well, that has all changed for the senior women of California. The Senior Women’s Basketball Association is a nonprofit in San Diego, California that has been running for over 20 years, where participants must be at least 50 years of age to play. The Splash Team, however, is made up of players who are at least 80 years old. Most of the women are 85+ and two of the women are 90!
“If you can stand up and move your legs, you’re welcome,” said 87-year-old player Marge Carl. “You only have one life, what the hell. Go for it. Keep moving.”
For these women, the league allows them to play a game they only dreamed about playing as kids. The team plays three-on-three, half court games, which are broken up into two 15 minute intervals. They even have their own uniforms.
“It keeps me off the streets and out of the bingo parlors–saves me money,” said 85-year-old Nina Duncan.
“We play to win, absolutely,” said 91-year-old Meg Skinner.
The San Diego Splash are the oldest team in the league, and don’t win very often, but that doesn’t stop them from putting their all into each game.
“As long as I can, I’m going to play,” said Larson, who was 78 when she got her first pair of basketball sneakers.
“A lot of my childhood friends thought I was crazy at 66 to be playing basketball,” said Carl. Like many of the friends and family of the players, they were concerned about her safety and worried that she would break a bone. The thought process amongst the team was the same: “If I don’t play, I will be sorry.”
“Now most of my childhood friends are gone,” said Carl. The Splash Team not only has allowed these women to experience playing a sport that they were not allowed to play in their youth, but it has also helped them to form amazing friendships and sisterhoods with their teammates. The Splash Team is more than a team; it is a family.
“It’s the nicest group of people, from all walks of life,” said Carl.
Watching these women play is so inspiring and evokes feelings of joy and happiness that almost makes you want to cry. They have energy, they are full of life, and they are proving that anything can be done, even as you get older.
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