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‘Mamas,’ ‘Papas,’ among local seniors off to state

Inspired by legendary UT Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, Sadie Stroud and her newly-formed “Smoky Mountain Mamas” Senior Olympic basketball team looked for ways to improve a few years ago.

That inspiration would help create a mini monster on the East Tennessee Senior Olympic 3-on-3 basketball front. Stroud, a West Knox County resident, is captain and player with the 55 to 59 “Mamas” whose teams have won numerous state championships in previous years.

“They have male practice partners,” Stroud recalled thinking when remembering that Summitt improved her Lady Vol basketball team by having them practice against male students and other men.

“I said, ‘OK, I’m going to go recruit,’ and I went looking in our church and saw anybody who was tall and said, ‘are you from either Kentucky or Indiana, do you know how to play basketball and would you come on Tuesday nights and practice against us?’

“Don’t hurt us, but just help us be better,” Stroud added. “So some guys showed up and they did help us try harder and run faster and shoot quicker.

“The only problem with that is that they had so much fun playing they spun off and formed the “Smoky Mountain Papas,” so we lost our practice partners.

Seven “Papas” teams and five “Mamas” squads — ages 50 to 54, 55 to 59, 60 to 64, 65 to 69 and 70 to 74 — will be among a field of thousands competing in 17 different sports at the annual Tennessee Senior Olympic Games July 14-20 in Williamson County (Franklin, Brentwood).

The double-elimination basketball state event will be held at Battle Ground Academy.

With 3-on-3 basketball not included during the East Tennessee Senior Olympic Games April 21-26, “We get to go through to state without having to go through district qualifying,” Stroud said.

Stroud is joined by West Knox County 55-plus teammates Barbara Budlong, Barbara Brimi and Suzanne Wilson.

The “Papas” will take two 60-plus teams and a pair of 65-plus squads.

Stroud said the payoff for success at state is huge.

“Any team, or anybody, at this year’s Tennessee Senior Olympics who comes in first or second, then they are eligible to represent Tennessee next summer … when the National Senior Olympic Games will be held in Louisville, Kentucky.”

Other “Mamas” West Knox County players include (50-plus) Rose Boll, Linda Cramer and Sandy Pevey; (60-plus) Jo Farmer and Susie Hargis; (65-plus) Marie Ledgewood (captain) and Melissa Stamps.

“Papas” team members (50-plus) are Kent Rowland and Bill Bayliss; (55-plus) Larry C. Williams (captain), Phil Kirby and Dick Angel; (60-plus) King Duncan (captain), Maurice Lee and Don Ross; (65-plus) Pat Murphy and Rob Hargis; (70-plus) George M. Whitehead (captain).

Duncan said he and his 60-plus team “really look forward to going” to state. “This is our fourth or fifth year of playing in the state senior games. Last year we played in the National Senior Games (2005 in Pittsburgh, Pa.).

“Of course our dream is to qualify for next year’s Nationals,” Duncan added.

Other Knox County athletes who qualified for the Tennessee Senior Olympic Games in one or more sports are (females) Elizabeth Anderson, Johnnie M. Conner, Mikki L. Eddlemon, Susan S. Elmore, Alice L. Greene, Bertie A. Lubert, Gloria J. Murff, Dorothy L. Rose, Joan C. Wolfe and Carol N. Yurek.

Other Knox County male state qualifiers are Vernon E. Allen, Marvin R. Anderson, James F. Cole, Chuck S. Comer, William E. Dyke, Gerald K. Eddlemon, Fred C. Farmer, Larry S. Finch, Tommy K. Ford, Kaden Fox, Ron Gratz, Milton L. Helin, Eugene V. Hill, Paul E. Holden, Paul Howard, William R. Huntington, Douglas Jackson, John C. Jenkins, Jerry A. Julian, Paul W. Krier, George K. Larsen, William L. Lauer, Lennie H. Martin, Jerry A. McNutt, William E. McReynolds and Perry J. Meerdink.

Other male qualifiers include Murphy (also won horseshoes and finished second in basketball free throws), Mack Pemberton, Tom E. Pritchard, Bob L. Riehl, Rowland (also first in table tennis and second in horseshoes and free throws), John D. Sterrett, Rodney W. Sutch, George M. Whitehead, Williams (first in horseshoes) and Jerry W. Wolfe.

Frank P. Galbraith, a former Farragut Middle School teacher, qualified by finishing first in badminton doubles.


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