By Magdalena McCloskeyI joined the Colorado Peaches team when I was 77. My teammates were my age. Most had been playing on the team since 1991. My contribution to the team was my ability to run. Besides playing in the outfield, I was the designated runner.
Three years later, six of our team members retired, including the founders of the Colorado Peaches. We were left without a coach, manager, pitcher, catcher, first base(wo)man and left fielder. Those who retired had just turned 80. They had been Peaches for 21 years.
The fragmented Peaches continued to compete in the Huntsman Senior World Games for the following two years. I served as coach and manager, though I had no experience at either role. It was like herding cats, pretty hilarious. Our mantra during this period was “the longer I play, the better I was.” Still we got it together to compete in the fall. Then in 2015 an extraordinary coach named Gayle came aboard. She required of us our very best, and then some. We gradually turned a corner and became a team of individuals who improved in every skill we had to manifest to be a team. The athlete within woke up. In spite of our handicaps — arthritis, replaced knees, hips, shoulders, heart problems, we began to know ourselves as seasoned athletes, never again, as old ladies playing ball.
As we challenged ourselves, we became a force with which to contend! In 2016, we won the Bronze medal and were honored by the Sportswomen of Colorado. In 2017, we won the Silver.
To be a Colorado Peach, you must be coachable and commit to grow and develop physically, mentally and spiritually. Endless possibilities of growth occur in the context of playing ball. Bodies grow stronger, flexible, quick and balanced. One woman who recently joined us in practice said, “I didn’t know I could still run.” Mental alertness is a must when fielding the ball. Not only are you responsible for your position, you must also be aware of your teammates, your opponents and where the ball is in relation to all of it. Every play is a new situation. Choose to be present or check out.
We have created a culture in which everyone who chooses to play, knows and feels she belongs. Every player is valued for the contribution she is. We are about excellence, not perfection. Errors, strike outs, losing are inevitable. The only final out is quitting. If you can’t embrace failure, go sit in the bleachers. We constantly practice letting go of our egos, that critical, judgmental part of our unnatural identity that cannot tolerate messing up. We love and care for one another, grateful that we are all willing to play. Play is not just about having fun. It’s exploring possibilities, creating, turning the ordinary upside-down. To play on a team is a whole new ballgame.
We’ve started a nonprofit, A Field of Our Own. We are building a league for women over 50. We want to provide a space and resources to encourage and support senior women to play. Our membership continues to grow. We now have enough players to form a 65-age team next season. During our off-season, we work on building our non-profit. The Corner Boxing Club became our first major sponsor, contributing $1,000 — a hit — getting us to first base. Raising money can be fun.
We intend to expand on the community outreach we began near the end of the 2017 season. Gayle also coaches a high school team on the west side of the Denver metro area in an underserved area. We adopted the Jefferson High School Girls Softball Team! We go to their games, cheer them on, take them out for pizza and encourage them. Next season, we will be scrimmaging with them.
My dream — I can see it now — is to have A Field of Our Own — a place where we can play ball and inspire everyone to play full-out in the game of life.
Go to http://www.fieldofourown.com for more information on the Colorado Peaches.