83-YEAR-OLD WOMAN STILL STRONG AT SOFTBALL AFTER 50 YEARS OF PITCHING
Old age comes gradually to people after their youthful years, which in many estimations, starts at 50 years. Visible changes such as wrinkled skin, weak bones, joints pain and cramps, poor eyesight, greying hair that eventually turns to snow white in later years are the most consistent attributes found in old people. They grow weak.
But for Norma Franzese, these are not her portion as she dares to be different. Do you want to know how she did it? Read on.
We bring to you 83-year-old Franzese Norma who is an active member of a male softball team. Yes! You read right. She has been a sportswoman in the softball category for five decades. Here is her story.
Norma was one of the Cardinal players in the men’s softball teamtwo years ago at 81. However, there was a problem with the manager, and he dropped her from the team because, “I was very fragile,” Norma recalled.
The team lost more matches after her departure, and later, the manager left, and Franzese was brought back.
“Everyone else on the team were males except me,” she said. “I was and still older than them all.” She added that spot is very useful for the body and she has no intention of quitting anytime soon.
The 83-year-old softball pitcher was surprised by the action of the manager. She was among the forces behind the team’s victories in the past. But that did not stop her from supporting her teammates even while she was off the pitch. Some weeks later, her team played in a season-ending tournament. It was very important for them to win the game or they would be dismissed from the games. After much deliberations, the manager proposed that Franzese should come back to increase the team’s chances of winning.
“We won! Yes, we won when I returned to pitch for us! ” she exclaimed excitedly. “Yet I was dropped again after the victory.”
Franzese started her journey into the sport at age 30. It all began when her local Sunday school established a club. She started to practice in earnest preparation for the club’s activities in the impasse at her house alongside a friend.
“We would go out to the impasse to play while our children fell asleep,” she said.
And that marked the beginning of her career. She never stopped playing softball since then. Wherever she found herself, she must surely spot a softball team to join, or she would create her own. She once found a women’s team in Monte Vista Village Resort in Arizona, a public of retired citizens. Her team would counter the men’s team. Those encounters usually come with surprises, such as having the wives of the men come around to cheer them on.
“We would get applauded by their spouses who would watch us from the grandstands,” she said.
Franzese pitches four matches weekly. Surprisingly, she only got injured two times in the last 50 years that she has been pitching. The first time was when she broke her ankle at age 45 while trying to enter the first base.
The second one was even more dramatic. She was 79-years-old at the time when once while playing, a ball appeared suddenly from nowhere and hit her ear. That incidence required 13 stitches to seal off the wound. But Norma was known to be stubborn as she got back to the field after just one visit to the hospital. “I had to be around my team to support them,” she said. “We were working hard to qualify for the national championship. I forgot my pains and climbed the mound. My teammates were shocked to see me, but I said to them: “I’m perfectly fine, okay guys? My legs and my hands are fine too. Don’t worry about me.” I hate to be pitied,” Franzese said.
Eventually, her team won the Huntsman World Senior Games last month, with the help of her deftness in pitching, this made the team to get the entitlement.
Franzese is addicted to playing softball because it makes her feel young and healthy. “I must be active every time. My body deserves it,” she said.
Mama is not stopping. She is already getting ready for the training this winter season sometimes this month. In October, she was in Las Vegas for the Huntsman World Senior Games with her women’s softball team as a pitcher. Guess who was present at the playoffs? Wait for it… Norma’s biggest fan in the world, Birdie Ford, 103-year-old mother to Norma!
Birdie Ford still occasionally attends her precious daughter’s tournaments in spite of her visual impairment. She just can’t bear to cheer her daughter on.
Norma is glued to her sports life.
“Softball has been part of my existence,” she said.
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