Seniors take to basketball court in 50-and-over league
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
March 08, 2013 12:24 AM | 1539 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Canton resident Hugh Devery, right, passes the ball during a game with other members of the Cherokee Senior Basketball Association on Wednesday at the South Cherokee Recreation Center.
<BR>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Canton resident Hugh Devery, right, passes the ball during a game with other members of the Cherokee Senior Basketball Association on Wednesday at the South Cherokee Recreation Center.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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Although many of its members are decades past their prime, it would be hard to argue that any group is as physically fit as the men who participate in the Cherokee Senior Basketball Association.

The group, which requires that players be at least 50 years old, meets twice per week to play games at the Boys and Girls Club in Canton and the South Cherokee Recreation Center in Woodstock.

While it is less formal than some of the county’s other recreational organizations, the CSBA is certainly not less demanding.

The group plays 5-on-5, full-court basketball, with the only rule adjustment being that teams are not permitted to play man-to-man defense. There are five or six 15-minute games played per night.

According to CSBA commissioner Bob Sklenicka, members can choose to play on one or both nights, and because of the physical demands of the game, they don’t have set teams. Instead, an email is sent out the night before to see who will be in attendance. Teams are then chosen to balance the skill levels so that each game is competitive.

“The goal is to have a good workout and not get hurt,” said the 70-year-old Sklenicka, who has been playing for the last 12 years. “Most of the guys played in high school, and some in college, and still enjoy the game.”

Injuries do happen, according to Sklenicka, but most are sprained fingers or pulled muscles.

“We really don’t get sprained ankles because most of the guys have lost the ability to jump up and land on someone’s foot and twist an ankle,” he said.

The league, founded about 10 years ago by Lowell Lawson — a longtime advocate for sports in Cherokee County who died in September — plays games year-round. Sklenicka said attendance fluctuates based on the season, as athletes who may play softball in the spring and fall will join the basketball group for the winter months.

The official roster lists more than 50 players, with 25 who play regularly. And like Sklenicka, there are several players in their 70s.

While most of the players hail from Cherokee County, there are a few who travel from Cobb or Fulton counties to participate. Minimal fees are charged to rent facilities and purchase equipment.

Sklenicka said the best way for seniors interested in playing to learn more is to attend a session or two. Athletes can participate in two sessions before paying any fees.

“Because of the demands, we have a pretty high dropout rate,” Sklenicka said. “A lot of guys realize they aren’t in the shape they were in when they last played basketball.”
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