They started out 20 years ago playing basketball together in a Kent Parks Department league. And they’re still playing.
Then, they decided to form a softball team. And they’re still playing that in Kent, too.
And guys such as Glenn Watkins, Rich Marlow and brothers Steve and Mike Redmond don’t see the end in sight.
“There are a lot of teams that do a lot of training. But we just come together once a week to keep in touch with the guys we grew up with and ran around with,” said Watkins, the player-coach of the Adam Smith for Congress team in the Kent Parks Evergreen League Wednesday Division. “We’ve just carried on over the years.”
Sure enough. But two full decades with a core group of 40-somethings – the Redmonds, Marlow, Watkins and his brother Greg, and brothers Todd and Brian Person – that has stuck together?
“It is kind of a surprise when you do the math,” Glenn Watkins acknowledged with a smile.
For a while on Wednesday night, the math worked out for Watkins’ team in league playoffs. They rolled past Hays Painting/Merrill Gardens in a loser-out semifinal contest, 11-4, then edged Cloud 9/Able’s Limousine, 10-9, to force a second and deciding championship game in the true double-elimination tournament. But Cloud 9/Able’s pulled out the title, 8-6.
Win or lose, though, part of that group was planning to be at the Kent Commons gym on Friday for some early-riser basketball from 6-7 a.m. It’s a passion they pursue together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“I got these guys to do both (sports),” said Steve Redmond, who, along with Mike, was a hoops standout at Tyee High School just up the hill to the west of Kent in SeaTac. “You play sports in high school and college, and you want to keep playing as you get older.”
Added Mike Redmond, “Basketball is a little harder. It takes more time and conditioning. As we get a little older, it’s easier to stay competitive in softball than it is in basketball.”
Marlow doesn’t dribble and shoot any more – “Knees and back,” he said. “I played 15 years without missing a day.” But he’s still there every spring when it’s time to hit, catch and throw.
“We don’t practice, we don’t play tournaments. When we play, we play hard,” Marlow said. “No one gives anyone a bad time. We’re all decent athletes and just having fun.”
Having some success, too. While their league championship bid fell short this time, they’ve claimed a couple of crowns in the past few years. And they’ve done it without seeking elite-level players or otherwise shaking up their close-knit roster.
“We don’t try to add a lot of guys,” Watkins said. “We’ve had some success. We’re never going to be as successful as some other teams because we don’t practice. But everyone comes from a competitive background.”
From a loyal background, too, where friendship and fun counts for more than wins and losses.
“A big part of the group grew up as kids. So it’s kind of unique to carry on,” Mike Redmond said.
“We’ve always stayed active and it’s a good way to keep in touch,” Marlow said of the group’s longevity.
There’s certainly no time limit on something like that.
“As long as I can keep going and stay healthy, I have no plans of quitting any time soon,” Steve Redmond said.
Then, flashing a grin, he added, “We’ll probably end up on a 70-and-over league or something.”