Granny Basketball

January 11, 2008 8:11:19 PM PST
Granny basketball players Mavis Albin, Mary Bensen and Nikki Leader visit ABC7 Chicago.

The team just won their third gold medal at the Huntsman World Games in Utah last month, and they have five Senior Olympic Gold medals. Hold on! This is no ordinary basketball team. Even at the ripe age of 60-70 years old, they can dish it out, eat it up and spit it out!

They certainly are not typical granny's. The women who visited ABC7 Chicago are brutal basketball babes who've sustained broken fingers, black eyes and more bruises than they can count, all in the name of victory. They throw elbows, sink 3-pointers and bring home the gold time after time. They even play pick up games with the 30-year-old guys at the gym.

Mavis Albin, Team Captain

Mavis is 71 years old and a native of Livingston, Louisiana. She was born into a family of five boys and learned to play ball at an early age. She began playing basketball in seventh grade and was on the high school team in eighth grade. At that time, basketball rules were quite different. Players could only dribble the ball one time, could not cross the center line and only the forwards could shoot the ball. There were three players on each end, three guards and three forwards. The guards could only play defense and rebound the ball and pass it to a forward who was stationed at the opposite end of the court. Before graduating in 1954, Mavis made all district and all parish as a high school athlete.

During a time when women worked and sent their husbands to college, Mavis did that very thing. She worked at a lumber company while her husband Joe attended college to become a teacher. During those four years, they had three sons. A few years later, Mavis and Joe purchased the lumber company and built a comfortable business for the next 32 years. They both retired in 1992.

Mavis stopped playing ball for decades because of marriage, career and children. She read about the Senior Games and decided to get involved in basketball again. She played on the team that won the gold medal in 1993 - thanks to her 3-point shot at the buzzer that made the team the winners by one point! Mavis currently has four United States national gold medals, and 68 state and regional tournament gold medals.

Mary Bendsen

Mary is recognized for her high scoring ability. To her credit, since joining the Tigerettes, the team has not lost of game. Mary began playing basketball at the age of 12 and won the provincial championship that same year. She continued through high school playing in tandem with the open women's team. Mary was a member of the National Junior Women's champions with University of Victoria followed by six Senior A Championships. She was named the outstanding athlete at the University of Victoria and the top female athlete.

Mary played on the Canadian National Select team from 1966- 1973 winning a bronze medal in 1967 Pan American Games. She competed in the World Championships in Brazil where she was chosen as Miss Simpatico by the referees, and the Pan American Games in 1971 in Columbia.

Mary represented Canada in Czechoslovakia in 1979 as MVP of the tournament. Beginning at the age of 30, she played Master's basketball and won the gold medal in the Toronto World Masters Games. Mary competed in the Portland World Masters Games where she first met current teammate Mavis Albin.

On top of all of her other accomplishments, Mary is in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Bronze Medal Pan American Games team and was inducted into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame as an individual for basketball. She coached high school girls basketball for the majority of her 22 year teaching career.

Nikki Leader

Nikki is the baby of the Tigerettes at age 60. She is a native of Denham Springs, LA. She was a sophomore member of the 1962 Denham Springs High School state championship basketball champion runners-up. Nikki was an all-district selection that year and also received that honor during her junior and senior years. She was an all-state selection her senior year.

The women's basketball program at Denham Springs was discontinued after Nikki graduated, but she restarted the program and coached the junior high team. She then became the Denham Springs High School coach a few years later.

She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southeastern Louisiana University. Nikki retired in 2005 from her teaching/coaching responsibilities after 34 years. She also felt she would be better able to pursue her senior basketball activities after retiring. Nikki has two national gold medals and numerous state and regional gold medals for basketball. She is very focused and very competitive, Nikki loves to win.

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