Residents at Parkwood Village enjoy their annual basketball tournament and get some exercise at the same time.

It was an afternoon of excitement and thrills at the basketball tournament. Players had finished practice and now it was time to play. There were cheers, a fight song, a team mascot and a team of players ready to try for a three-peat.

It might sound like the NCAA basketball tournament but this was the mighty Penguins from Parkwood Village Assisted Living at their annual tournament against the other seven facilities in Legends Senior Living that owns Parkwood. Parkwood has won the event two years in a row and was hoping for a three-peat but fell just short and took second this year. The Reflections team in the Alzheimer unit took first in their division.

The tournament is held every year around NCAA basketball tournament time. There is a scoreboard and the game is divided into four eight-minute quarters with a five minute break between quarters. Each basket counts for two points and the highest score wins.

The break between quarters is mostly for the players but the coach, who gets a pretty good workout rebounding and passing the ball, needs a break to relax and get some water, said coach Josh Hewatt who runs the practices and makes sure his players are ready.

Team members sit in a circle around a big plastic tub and shoot or toss a ball into the tub to score points. Their coach acts as rebounder and passes the ball to the next player. He also gives each participant a nick name, usually a pun on their last name.

Scoring by quarters: First-129; Second-131; Third-126; Fourth-124; Total 510 baskets for 1,020 points.

Hewatt, who is Parkwood maintenance director, takes his job as coach very seriously but always with a good sense of humor and lots of sports quotes to throw around.

"We're the alpha predator. We just go for it," said Hewatt who coaches the team much like he coaches his kids recreation team.

Sharon Will, Parkwood residence director, said they have a lot of fun and talk tongue in cheek with the team members. They kid them that if they don't win the coach will be let go and they could be traded to the facility in Florida.

Practices are held three times a week from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Practices increase to everyday during the last couple of weeks so they will be ready to shoot. Players get to be pretty good and the best make the team.

Things really get exciting heading into the tournament. There are spirit week activities, a pep rally and the other buildings in the league are burned in effigy and the staff decorates resident's doors, Hewatt said.

Practices are open to any resident and Hewatt invites new residents to come to practice and see what the event is all about. Hewatt likes to have fun with the other teams in the "league." He said while the Penguins' practice schedule might be too hard for the other teams, its just right for the Penguins.

Besides a fun time for participants, residents and staff, there is a practical part for the tournament. Even though they are retired, the residents still have a competitive spirit that doesn't go away. They talk about playing as they eat in the dining hall, Hewatt said.

The tournament and practice helps keep the team members healthy in both mind and body, Will said.

As for the penguin for a mascot, Hewatt said the choice was a good one because they are noble and honest creatures.

"Have you ever been lied to by a penguin," Hewatt said.

On game day, a sports clock is set up with Jan Latrell acting as official score keeper. Resident Jim Pecinovsky acts a cheer leader and gets the crowd fired up with the Penguin fight song and "We Are The Champions." Staff member Morgan Daily is dressed as the team mascot and volunteer Connie Ross beats a drum to add to the excitement. Several other residents and some of their family members gather to watch the competition and cheer on the team.

First time participant Marge Gillig, nickname Gilzilla, said it was a good, fun activity. She enjoyed the fellowship with the other players and residents. While other players tossed the ball into the basket, Gillig said she had short arms and developed a one bounce technique to get the ball in the basket.

Team member Anfred Smith was one of the most consistent shooters, scoring almost every time with his one handed, underhand toss.

"That's the way I like to shoot," Smith said. "I hit the basket nearly every time."

He said he had five t-shirts from past tournaments and looks forward to the tournament all year. He enjoys doing the tournament and its a very positive activity. He is also very competitive.

"I'm looking forward to another win," Smith said.

Team member Alta Ross has earned the nickname "Machine Gun" because she shoots so fast. This is her third year competing and she said she has no special technique. She said she was glad she was able to participate and had a lot of fun. She got to meet a lot of nice people at Parkwood and had some good fellowship.

The tournament is just one of many activities held at Parkwood seven days a week including crafts, bingo, playing cards, taking a walk and exercising.

Legends Senior Living has eight facilities in Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

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