First Posted: 1/15/2009
Senior Olympic Hoopers win National Championship
The Sampson Independent
Louisville, Ky. n The Sampson County Hoopers defeated at tough defensive team from San Diego, California on Saturday, to bring home the gold in the National Senior Olympics Basketball Championship 14-13, held in Louisville, Kentucky last week.
Alice Montague, Director of Senior Citizen Activities for Clinton Recreation and Parks expressed her excitement with the Hoopers’ win, “I am, as well as the entire Senior Center population, just ecstatic over the Hoopers winning the National Senior Olympics Championship in basketball. We look forward to more participation from our seniors and participation in the seniors games in the future.” Hoopers coach Pat Jones, was also excited. “We have had a couple of state titles but this is the biggie,” he stated, “The National Senior Olympics has just about any kind of game you can think of, but we participated in basketball. There are many teams in differing age groups. We competed in the 75 plus age groups. The girls took six games in a row to win. The last game against San Diego was a truly defensive contest. We fortunately played outstanding defense and took the game by one point.” According to Jones, the game the previous day the Hoopers went up against a New Mexico team who was not as strong defensively, and they were able to score 47 points.
Jones stated, “I am so proud of the girls. Joyce Hill played with a hurt foot that we kept taped up, Joan Watson hurt her knee and Lovella Hall still did a great job rebounding with a hurt finger. It was a great trip, but tiring, six games in four days. My wife, Mary was a real trooper and our official scorekeeper and manager.” According to team captain, Joyce Hill, “We had to play San Diego two times and had to beat them both times. They had nine players and we only had four. I guess we showed them the mighty four.” Hill also added that the entire team wished to express their gratitude for the donations and contributions that were made to make it possible for them to attend the games. “The costs for staying a week are getting more and more each year,” expressed Hill.
Mayor Lew Starling had this to say about the Hoopers bringing home another title to Clinton and Sampson County, “We are very excited and proud of these ladies. I was honored to have been asked to participate in their send-off along with family, friends and many supporters as well as the recreation personnel. I told them if they won I would give them a bar-be-cue at my house, well they had someone call my cell Saturday night to tell me to get ready. These ladies have worked so hard and represent our senior citizens so well and are great examples of the many programs of our fine recreation department and all it offers our citizens. We will be recognizing the Hoopers soon at our city council meeting. Again we are extremely proud of the ladies.” Team member Lovella Hall summed it up this way. “We did it. We are undefeated. It was tough but we did it. Someone ask me who was the MVP and I said all four of us. That is what it is all about teamwork.
Teamwork and the Lord, that’s what got us through it. We don't play for ourselves we play to win as a team.” Hall also added that the ball they played with was one of theirs and they were planning on retiring it to a place of honor.
The Hoopers play three-on-three basketball. Team members are Laura Blount, Novella Hall, Joyce Hill, and Joan Watson, and are coached by Pat Jones. This is their second National Championship. The first they won in 2003.
Life for these ladies does not center only around basketball, they travel and visit with one another all year long. You can expect that as soon as they finish their stint in the July fourth All-American City parade Wednesday, they all will be heading to the beach together.
Congratulations our newest National Champs!
Editor’s Note: Joan Watson is a Red Springs native and played basketball for Red Springs High School in the late 1940’s and one season at Flora Macdonald College.
Picture cutline n The 2007 National Senior Olympic Basketball Champion Hoopers are from left to right, Novella Hall, Laura Blount, Olympian Bruce Jenner, Joan Watson and Joyce Hill. Jenner competed in the 1976 Summer Olympics and won a gold medal in the decathlon. In the event, he recorded a record of 8,634 points. He is best known for carrying a large American flag as a he ran a