By Vincent Pensabene
One incredible thing about the 2022 National Senior Games, presented by Humana, is the camaraderie between players. Team sports have even stronger bonds but few teams have a connection as strong or as long as the West Virginia Generals.
The men’s 80+ team has appeared in nine consecutive National Senior Games, dating back to the 2005 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. That’s a long time for any team to hold together, but their basketball history goes back to their youth. “Five of us went to Stonewall Jackson High School and three of us actually graduated with each other,” Fred Duffield proudly states. “And now we are playing twice a week all year round.”
This group of men have a deep love and affection for each other and West Virginia. Unlike many other National Senior Games teams, the Generals all hail from the same state – a fact they are proud of. There’s another team that has formed out of the relationship – the wives make the trip with the team to most of the tournaments they play.
This team does not back away from a challenge, having faced some notable names including Jerry Lucas, Sherman “Nemo” Nearman, and the Harlem Globetrotters. One teammate, Harold Vealey, had the inevitable job of guarding Jerry West in high school. Read Harold’s amusing story here.
Injuries and ailments are a reality for all competitors. Duffield recently had a knee replacement and was told it would take six weeks of rehabilitation to get back to normal. He completed it in half that time, which he credits to his consistent physical activity.
They are looking to defend their silver medal here in Fort Lauderdale and are off to a blistering start with a 3-1 record. One thing is certain: they are excited about going back to the city where they charged in for their first National Senior Games.
“We are looking forward to going back to Pittsburgh!” Duffield exclaims when asked about the Generals returning for their 10th consecutive National Senior Games.