Senior Women Find Joy on the Softball Field: Meet the Colorado Peaches


In late October, in the last softball scrimmage of the season, the Colorado Peaches face off in Halloween-themed teams, Tricks vs. treats. Before the warm-up, Magdalena McCloskey helps decorate a canoe with fake cobwebs.

But it’s not a children’s team.

Why we wrote this

The joy does not stop with age. Older Colorado women find it on the court.

The softball club welcomes players from 50 to 90 years old. “We all think we’re in middle school,” says Midge Kral, 70-something. “We don’t think about age – we don’t. You just think how wonderful you are.

Initiated by former PE teacher Chloe Childers, the Peaches formed and began competing nationally in the ’90s – and won medals.

Yet despite all their success, joy is the point. The Peaches cheer as their teammates circle the bases and send the neon yellow ball to the clouds. They also call for encouragement when a swing is sloppy.

In the end, the Tricks beat the Treats, 2-0. All the players clap hands in a show of good sportsmanship. Then they pass buckets of Halloween candy around. Ms. Kral trades in her baseball cap for a headband of cat ears.

How will she spend the offseason?

Winter conditioning, says Ms. Kral. So she can come back and hit him “out of the park”.

She swings and she leaves. At a baseball stadium outside Denver, nonagenarian Magdalena McCloskey sprints for first base.

The more I ask of my body, the more it gives,” says the slugger in the orange cap.

“Maggie,” as she is known in the field, is a longtime member of the Colorado Peaches. The softball club welcomes players between the ages of 50 and 90, although the number that matters is the one on their backs. That’s because the Peaches find joy — together as teammates — in the final innings of life.

Why we wrote this

The joy does not stop with age. Older Colorado women find it on the court.

“We all think we’re in middle school,” says Midge Kral, 70, in her green and white uniform. “We don’t think about age – we don’t. You just think how wonderful you are.

In the competitions, the women are divided according to age categories, but they train together. On this last Tuesday of the month, they clash. Typically, players are divided into Turnovers vs. Schnapps, but today for the final game of the season, taking place at a park in Lakewood, Colorado, it’s Tricks vs. Treats in honor of Halloween. Before the warm-up, Ms. McCloskey helps decorate a canoe with fake cobwebs.

“Is it too much?” asks sparring coach Suzy Ando in a bizarre baby mask. A teammate laughs.

Sarah Matusek/The Christian Science Monitor

Magdalena McCloskey, a peach from Colorado in her 90s, bats at Addenbrooke Park in Lakewood, Colorado on Oct. 25, 2022. “The more I ask of my body, the more it gives,” she says.

Joy is the goal. The Peaches cheer as their teammates circle the bases and send the neon yellow ball to the clouds. They also call for encouragement when a swing is sloppy.

“YEAH, baby, go ahead! Yeah! Yeah!” shouts Ms. Kral, a former school librarian, to a batting Tricks teammate.

Many older American adults are, of course, swimming, biking, pickleball their way through retirement – and many are competing. The National Senior Games Association reports that this year saw the second highest attendance at its National Senior Games with just over 12,000 athletes. If not for the pandemic, the 2022 games, which have been delayed for a year, could have broken records, NSGA spokesman Del Moon said.

“I can tell from surveys and direct interviews with athletes that their passion for athletics has grown,” Moon wrote in an email. “They were angry and frustrated that the tracks, pools and gyms were closed and most were itching to ‘get back in the game’.”

Initiated by former PE teacher Chloe Childers, the Peaches formed and began competing nationally in the ’90s – and won medals. This month, the senior players received an honorary gold medal at the World Senior Huntsman Games in Utah for creating their first 79-plus age bracket in women’s softball. (With no other team old enough to challenge them, the Peaches ended up playing younger players — and won one of five games.)

Sarah Matusek/The Christian Science Monitor

Val Robinson (center) joins in a pre-game cheer at Addenbrooke Park in Lakewood, Colorado on Oct. 25, 2022. The team welcomes women ages 50-90.

“We’ve always had people from other states ask if they could join our team, because we’ve always had a great time,” Childers says by phone from her home in Greeley, Colorado.

She is one of the peaches who graduated from college before Title IX became law in 1972 to correct sex discrimination in schools. They made up for lost time.

And why name the team after the fruits?

” We have the best peaches in all the countries ! she laughs.

Even the pandemic couldn’t undermine their plans – they just trained with masks. The group is about 35-45 women (some of whom live in other states). Membership has evolved over time, and the group is being restructured.

Ms Childers, who was playing center field “because I was the fastest runner”, took off her glove. But daughter Christy Childers says her mother still rules table tennis with a killer backhand.

Sarah Matusek/The Christian Science Monitor

Fans watch the Colorado Peaches’ final scrimmage of the season in Lakewood, Colorado on October 25, 2022.

At Tuesday’s game, fans behind the chain-link fence include some from the Hilltop Reserve Senior Living Community in Denver, here for fellow resident Barb Johnson. He is a recent recruit in the 80s known in the field as “Mom”. The nicknames are an expression of the unity that keeps the peaches coming back – beyond the pursuit of pop fly ball mastery.

Take Dora Haynes, who joined this spring. Since moving from Texas to Colorado five years ago to be near her grandson, “I guess I’ve felt a bit isolated,” she says. “I learned to be a grandparent during those five years and kind of put myself on the backburner. So that definitely kicked me out.

Her husband Ed Haynes witnessed her transformation from his bleacher seat.

Every week she looks forward to getting together with these ladies,” he says. “Now she has a big family.”

The camaraderie also moved Laura Clemons, who lost her husband in 2018. It gives me a loophole to, you know, not think about it,” the athlete says.

Sarah Matusek/The Christian Science Monitor

Midge Kral slaps teammates after the Colorado Peaches’ final scrimmage of their season, Oct. 25, 2022. “We don’t think about age — we don’t. You just think about how wonderful you are,” says -she.

For others, participation is a personal triumph.

I went through cancer and they were still there when I came back. I didn’t know if I could crawl out of my house, but I did, and this team meant everything to me,” says Sue Stantejsky. Here, she is called “Red Sue”, because she had red hair.

In the end, his team, the Tricks, beat the Treats, 2-0. All the players clap hands in a show of good sportsmanship. Then they circulate the print editions of the Greeley Tribune, which recently Featured the band and buckets of Halloween candy. Ms. Kral trades in her baseball cap for a headband of cat ears.

How will she spend the offseason?

Winter conditioning, says Ms. Kral. So she can come back and hit him “out of the park”.

Previous Victoria 2026 facilities will be built at Waurn Ponds, Armstrong Creek
Next Catapulting Ghanaian Sport to Global Prominence - Case Study of Hosting the All Africa Games