For Danbury Area Geezers, Playing Basketball Makes Them “Feel Like In High School”

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DANBURY – When Danbury resident Steve Howard was planning his 80th birthday celebration several weeks ago, there was no doubt what was top of his list – playing basketball with the ‘Geezers’, did he declare.

The Geezers are a group of about 20 older men from the Danbury area who have played basketball several times a week, year round, for over 20 years. While they play for fun and fitness, they say the game also serves as a fountain of youth.

“We feel like we’re in college,” said Danbury resident Dennis Macauley, 73. “We always joke with each other.”

The Geezers play at the Danbury War Memorial.

“He’s an interesting sample of guys,” said Rich Sacks, 72, a New Milford resident. Although most have retired, past careers include an engineer, nurse, painter, writer, accountant, factory foreman, actor, and clinical psychologist – who the guys joked should go back to. game because it would help resolve conflicts.

Some are unemployed while others have obtained a doctorate.

Once the game starts, however, everyone is on an equal footing.

“One of the great joys is that when you play, you don’t think about anything else,” Macauley said. “You can have problems dealing with various problems, and for two or three hours you don’t have those problems anymore. Then you go to the locker room and make jokes like you did when you were a kid.

About half of the men played in their high school teams and a few played college ball, while others never received formal instruction and learned the rules of the game from each other.

Some of the older members slowed down a bit, while the “kids,” who are in their 50s, didn’t have as much, Sacks said.

“Some can still run and jump, and we try to avoid them as much as possible,” Sacks joked. “It’s a balancing act between the armchairs and the gazelles who aren’t much faster than the cuddly toys but still, they are much faster than the rest of us.

When there are too many players for a game, guys may have to sit one down – and Sacks – who said he considers himself very competitive – said he didn’t like it too much.

“But it’s still fun because you sit on the sidelines and heckle – heckle – but nobody pays much attention to it,” Sacks joked.

Sacks said the exhaustion he feels after a game “is wonderful”.

“The mystery of whether we will survive is also wonderful,” Sacks added jokingly.

Create memories

As the weeks turned into years and the years into decades, the Geezers have created – and continue to create – memories together they will likely never forget, Sacks said.

Several years ago, Howard accidentally gifted Macauley a minnow the night before he was scheduled to host a formal reception.

“It was a fundraiser at the Matrix Conference & Banquet Center. I sold two tables full of people coming to this event. I had the opportunity to sit down with the speaker, ”Macauley said. “The day before the event, I was going to do a lay-up and Steve was watching over me. Instead of blocking it with an open hand, he blocks it with a fist, and he swings the ball and hit me in the face. I had before me a big purple mouse the size of a golf ball.

The group went through some rough times, like when one of the guys had prostate cancer. The others were very supportive of him during his recovery, and some helped guide him through the medical process, Sacks said.

Getting through the pandemic

The Geezers originally played most of the year at Bethel Parks & Recreation, and in the summer at the War Memorial. At the start of the pandemic, the Bethel facility had closed and men were off gambling for more than a year.

Howard said the Geezers were what drove him through the pandemic.

“When COVID hit, I kept telling myself, ‘I have to stay healthy so I can play basketball again. “I made it my goal,” he said.

In the spring Richter Park in Danbury opened and Howard started going four or five days a week.

“I started shooting and got the group together and once they lifted the mask warrant and it started to drop we moved to the war memorial,” said Howard, who is the Self-proclaimed leader of the Geezers.

All of Howard’s training has paid off – others say he’s a much more aggressive and confident player than he was five or even 10 years ago.

“Steve has developed new skills, and in shooting especially, has improved a lot,” said Sacks.

Stay slim

Macauley said when playing for the Geezers he felt like a kid “100 percent mentally” and “50 percent physically”.

“You really feel invigorated after playing, especially after playing a few good shots,” he joked.

He said playing with the Geezers “is the funniest thing I do by far. I can go spend $ 500 on a play in New York City – but in terms of fun, honestly, that’s it.

The Geezers have said they plan to keep playing for as long as they are physically able to.

“If you never stop moving, you don’t have to stop,” Macauley said.

The Geezers are accepting new members. It is not necessary to register in advance. The only requirements are to be over 50, to be vaccinated and to be a member of the Danbury War Memorial, 1 Memorial Drive. Players pay the War Memorial $ 1 each time.

sfox@milfordmirror.com 203-948-9802


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