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By Steve Breazeale
For their recent tournament success, a group of local senior basketball players, dubbed Team USA 80, were honored at the San Juan Capistrano City Council meeting on Sept. 1.
The team, comprised of players over the age of 80, was honored for their gold medal-winning effort at the 2015 National Senior Games in Minneapolis in July. The San Juan Capistrano-based squad entered pool play in the tournament as a lower seed, but rallied from two early losses to defeat a senior team from Texas and claim the national championship.
The USA Team 80 team has won tournaments at the ages of 65, 70, 75 and 80.
The council members remarked on how resilient the group has been over the course of several decades.
“We are fortunate to recognize a group of gentlemen who demonstrate that with determination, teamwork and heart, you can persevere at any age,” Mayor Derek Reeve said that night.
The group of eight players is led by player-manager and San Juan resident Bob Messersmith, who took to the podium to speak on the group’s behalf. After Messersmith introduced his players to those in attendance, he outlined how the city of San Juan Capistrano has embraced senior basketball at the community center. Three times a week, the basketball courts inside the community center’s gym are reserved for senior pick-up games.
Messersmith said that the team plans to make another run at a national tournament championship in 2017, when Team USA 80 will compete in the age 85 and up division.
Allison Jarrell contributed to this story.