Harry Carothers, 71, Pinellas Park, Florida
Recently, the syndicated Daytime TV morning show, which is based with WFLA in Tampa, Florida and airs in 102 cities, featured a basketball shooting display by 71 year old Harry Carothers from nearby Pinellas Park. The spry marksman did not fail to impress the show hosts and audience, and the interview and demonstration extended an invitation nationwide for others to join the Senior Games Movement.
Harry, a veteran in 3 on 3 basketball at National Senior Games since 1999, has dominated free throw, timed shooting and spot shooting contests in senior competition in several Florida counties and at the Florida International Senior Games since he first toed the line at 55. He’s netted 46 gold medals at the Florida games over the past 15 years. He has never been beaten at the county or state level in timed shooting events. Swish.
“My dad played semi pro ball and there was a basket up on our garage from my earliest memory,” Harry recalls. “As I grew he built a goal in the yard and it became this big dirt court that was the place kids came to play from a mile away. When I started high school Dad put a light on the goal and I would shoot baskets into the dark until my neighbor would yell ‘When are you going to stop so we can get some sleep?'”
Harry’s teams have earned two silver and three bronze medals at National Senior Games. All of his Clearwater Aces teammates have collegiate basketball backgrounds, but Harry did not participate in his college years. He says he really came into his own during a 28 year Air Force career, honing basketball and other sport skills playing on base teams. “Even when I attained Colonel I was still a regular at lunchtime basketball in the gym with guys 20 years younger than I was. Basketball really is a sport you can grow old with.”
After retiring, Harry kept busy with volunteer work and being a gym rat until he met Walter Deal, founder of the Clearwater Aces. His path as a senior athlete opened. He eventually took on managing the team and now travels and participates on average in almost one senior tournament per month with the Aces (and occasionally with other teams). As you might expect, the sharpshooter also enters every senior shooting contest he can get to. This, despite needing to protect an implanted pacemaker for the past 17 years and overcoming bouts with prostate cancer and a hernia surgery along the way. “I kid with the other guys that when I get a little tired in a game I have the capability to turn up my heart rate.”
While acknowledging his accomplishments, Harry also quickly says his teammates are outstanding players and he has great respect for the other athletes he faces. “Everyone doing senior basketball has an interesting story to tell. When you find a guy who’s over 70 years old and taking it this seriously-working out, staying in shape and going around playing in tournaments-you know there’s something going on there.”