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'National Granny Basketball Tournament' to tip off in Kansas City

Pat Conner Playing in 'National Granny Basketball Tournament'
Posted at 10:27 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 23:27:27-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A group of athletes fueled up Friday evening for a sporting event unlike any other.

Out of 20 teams, only one will be this year's champ of the "National Granny Basketball Tournament."

"I think every one of us embrace the terminology or the label of being a granny, not everyone here is a grandmother," Michele Clark, deputy director with the Granny Basketball League, said. "Everyone here is at least age 50 or older. [Our] Oldest player active player in the league is 90."

That would be Pat Conner from Lawrence, Kansas.

"I've always loved basketball, and I love any basketball, because for me, I have to be active or else I'm, you know, my health is going to deteriorate," Conner said.

She picked up the game six years ago, and so did her daughter, Debbie Puga.

"It's really fun. Our coach will sometimes put us in offense together even though she normally plays center and I normally play defense," Puga said. "So that's when it's the most fun, I like to feed her the ball and she likes to shoot so it's a lot of fun."

They play by 1920s-style basketball rules.

"Don't jump, you can only dribble twice, and you got to stay on your end of the court," Jean Carder, the captain of a traveling team and on the referee oversight committee, said.

And there's such a thing as a "granny" shot.

"Both hands have to be on the ball facing the basket squarely, both feet have to be together and it has to originate from between the knees like this," Carder said.

This year is the largest tournament yet for the league, making a return to Kansas City and playing at the Hy-Vee Arena Saturday and Sunday.

Behind all the fun there is a charitable cause, the price of admission this weekend is $5.

Four of those dollars will go to Noah’s Bandage Project.

Fans are also encouraged to bring boxes of band aids that will go to kids with cancer.

"Yes, we’re competitive, but we're really more about having friendship and having a safe space for women of a certain age to come play," Carder said.

The full 2022 National Granny Basketball Tournament schedule can be found on its website.