There are a few things that come with approaching 60 years of age. Many restaurants and businesses offer senior discounts, and some see retirement on their horizon, with more time to spend with their friends, doing what they want to do. But would you ever think of joining a women’s senior softball team when you turn 60? For a group of local ladies, they decided that this time in their lives was perfect to pursue their love of softball and formed “The Wannabes.”
The Wannabees, a women’s senior softball team, have been playing together for 15 years since Nora Stephens, Candy Newsome, Judy Holder, and Brent Russell formed the team. Some people have asked the ladies, “Why the name, The Wannabees?” The answer is rather simple. “The team began as a 55-and-over group, with the youngest-age player determining which age group you could participate in. When the team started, some of the players were reflecting on their past years as younger players and all the good times they had, and would ask, “Wouldn’t you wannabe there again?”—thus the name. After ten years, the Wannabees elected to create two teams, a 55+, and a 60+. “However, when both teams can’t field a team, we can combine both age groups to provide a team with double the amount of depth, support, fun, and experience. Two years ago, the teams became the 60+ team and 65+ team,” said Diane Eaton, Wannabee team member.
Presently, The Wannabees have 30 talented players who have played many years and are still quite competitive and love the game. You might ask exactly how competitive can these ladies be with all the possible injuries that could happen? “Yes, we get hit by the ball, take falls, wear knee braces and padding, run a little slower and play hurt, but don’t take us lightly. We still have the heart and desire to play like in our younger days,” Diane commented. For the ladies of The Wannabees, it’s not all about the game, there’s a lot of heart and camaraderie involved, too.
“The Wannabees’ season starts off in January of each year with a supper and meeting with the coaches, Robbie Jackson, Jim Morgan, and Greg Hendrix. In March, practices begin on every Tuesday and Sunday. We must loosen up the bones, oil the gloves and plan the schedule for the season. We typically play in the Piedmont Plus Senior Games in Winston-Salem in June and the North Carolina State Senior Games in October. We also look to play games against other senior softball teams in Graham, Charlotte, and Salisbury. Women’s senior softball in North Carolina is a large community of friends who support and love to compete,” stated Diane. These ladies are serious about their competition and have the awards to prove it.
“The National Senior Games occur every two years with teams from all over the United States and Canada. In 2005, The Wannabees won the bronze medal in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2013, The Wannabees 60+ team were the National Class A gold medal winners, coming up through the losers’ bracket to beat a team from El Paso, TX, and placing seven players on the All-American list. This past June, the games were held in Birmingham, AL. The Wannabees 60+ and 65+ teams started out well, but we just didn’t finish where we wanted to. Over the years we’ve had quite a few 1st- and 2nd- place finishes,” Diane said. While anyone can come out and play with the team, prior experience is helpful.
“All of the ladies on The Wannabees teams know how to play the game of softball and, most importantly, love the game and each other,” commented Diane. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend your time and make good friends, too!
For more information on The Wannabees, check out their page on Facebook or contact Chuck Vestal at City of Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department.