COPPERAS COVE — It started as a fund-raiser. Now, Granny Basketball has grown into a league consisting of 32 teams across nine states with more than 400 granny players.
It is a league for women 50 years of age and older to play 1920s style, six-on-six basketball.
“My sister was the one who started it,” Texas coordinator Linda Toerper said. “I just came along with it.”
Granny Basketball started in Lansing, Iowa, where the community wanted to raise funds for a historical building.
“Our dad had been a coach when we grew up,” Toerper said. “So Barb McPherson Trammell was trying to think of something that would be beneficial for women, because there’s a lot of stuff for men but not so much for women.
“My dad had described the 1920s style basketball to her and so she thought, ‘Let’s give that a try,’ and so that’s what they did.”
When Toerper moved to Texas to be closer to her daughter and grand kids, she brought the game with her.
Today’s teams continue the tradition the league was founded upon, operating as a nonprofit organization that plays in games against other teams and community figures to raise funds for charities.
The sport is true to the decade and includes team uniforms worn by girls’ basketball teams of the era — a white blouse, black bloomers and knee socks or stocking of the team colors.
Each team has two guards, two forwards and one or two centers who remain in their designated court, which is divided into three sections.
There is no running or jumping, and each player is permitted two dribbles per possession. The rules also indicate no physical contact, time or lane restrictions.
Games are typically four eight-minute quarters with a continuous clock except for falls and fouls.
At no time can a woman’s bare legs be revealed between their socks and bloomers or else the team receives a “flesh foul.”
There is one time-out allotted per quarter for each team and players are limited to just three fouls.
In the 1920s style game, three points are scored for underhand “granny” shots, two points for all other field goals and one point for a free throw.
Granny Basketball players must meet the age requirement, be able to sustain moderate physical activity for several minutes without collapsing and be willing to perform in public.
“When you get out on the court, you’re just there and not thinking of any of your troubles,” Toerper said. “It’s great exercise.”
Women came out to Wednesday’s practice at the Armed Services YMCA in Copperas Cove from as far as Topsey and Harker Heights.
“I’ve been playing for about two or three months now,” Harker Heights resident Laurena Ward said. “Of all the activities to do around Harker Heights, this one tops them all.”
Women interested in participating are not required to have any previous experience playing.
With three teams currently established across the state of Texas, they all include a mix skill levels.
Ramona Reid Owens came out to her first practice this week after hearing about the league from her sister, Rita Dukes.
Owens played basketball for Killeen and recently returned to the area. Dukes recently joined the team in Harker Heights and invited Owens to tryout with the new team starting in Copperas Cove.
“It’s real interesting,” Owens said. “It’s been about 45 years since I’ve played, but it’s nice to find something to do and keep active with.”
The original Texas team is the Georgetown Fire Ants. Harker Heights Old Glories have been around for a couple years, and the recently created Round Rock Rockettes was established at the start of 2019.
Continuing to add more teams across the Lone Star State, the Copperas Cove Yellow Roses are the fourth Central Texas team, and the league plans to establish talks of a fifth team being created in Cedar Park.
Practices for the Yellow Roses will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday at the Armed Services YMCA at 501 Clara Drive.
“Give it a try,” Toerper said, “because we have all levels from beginners to people who played in college, so the experienced players can help mentor the women along.
“I think a lot of people have noticed a lot of beneficial medical affects from lower blood pressure to lost weight.”
For more information about joining the Copperas Cove Yellow Roses, contact Doreen Vasseur at 254-542-2851 or email email@example.com.
To learn more about the Granny Basketball League, log onto GrannyBasketball.com.