At age 86, Jim Crowell may seem like an unlikely athlete to bring home the gold. But Jim has a passion for shooting the basketball and he proves every day that age is just a number.
“It’s good for people at that stage of their life because they all know, especially guys in my category, they all know that it doesn’t last forever,” said Jim.
“I shoot an average of five times a week,” he said. “Either really early in the morning at the college or here during the school year when the kids aren’t here in the morning.
“I’m just another basketball junkie, that’s all.”
Jim’s love of the game brought him to the Huntsman World Senior Games in Saint George, Utah, last month. It’s 11,000 athletes over the age of 50. They come from 34 countries, competing from 29 different sports including basketball, volleyball, golf, mountain biking, soccer, running, swimming and more.
The senior games veteran took home two gold medals. Jim won both shooting contests for ages 85-89. One was for the combined free throw and 3-point competition. The other was for Hot Shot, which consists of taking six shots in different spots on the court in a specific time limit.
“It’s not the score I want, and I was 21-for-25 free throws and four-for-six three-pointers,” Jim said. “I do better than that. A lot of times in the morning, but there’s no pressure here when I’m alone.”
Basketball has played a role in Jim’s life for years, and in the very same gym — Jan Ward Gymnasium — where he practices now.
“It was a four-team grade school league in Bend and this was the gymnasium,” he said. “I started in here that small and played all the way through high school and then played at COCC my freshman year and then played half a year at Boise.”
If it wasn’t for him and former Bend graduates, the gym now used by the Boys and Girls Club probably wouldn’t be there.
“This building was in horrible condition and the school district … they wanted to get rid of the thing. And some of us who graduated from Bend High School decided, ‘No, it’s one of Bend’s most historic buildings,’ built in 1918 as a private athletic club. So we took it upon ourselves to save it,” Jim said.
It was not only saved but restored and used as a nonprofit.
“There’s a new Boys and Girls Club in Bend that needs the place,” Jim said. “The process had to be nonprofit. The school district deeded it to the Bend Parks and Recreation, and their name is over there for a 50-year lease option at a dollar a year with the second 50-year option at the end of the first 50 years.”
From first grade to the present day, Jim continues to put up shots.
“How lucky can one guy get at 86 to be able to come up to his old high school gym and shoot the ball every day?” Crowell asked. “I mean, that just doesn’t happen most of the time.”
It’s a gym that has his name on mid-court for everyone to see — Crowell-Scott Court — and an 86-year-old with a strong passion for the game.
“I know what they’re doing early in the morning,” he said. “They’re out there doing the same thing I am. So if I don’t get out of bed and go shoot, then the next time over, I’m going to get killed.”
Every day, every morning, a motivation to get out of bed and practice. Jim proves when it comes to age, you can still go out and compete and maybe even bring home a few medals along the way.
“It’s one of those things,” he said, “How much time good time do I have left? And if I’ve got a few more years, why waste time? I’ll just go and do it. Because it’s a kick. That’s all there is to it.”