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March 24th, 2011 |


By Amber Wiliams


Game of hoops helps the homeless


Who’s more likely to win in a basketball game: a team of high school kids called the “Hoopsters,” or the “Hot Pink Grannies,” a slightly more… seasoned team of ballers? For $5 you can find out at the AIB College of Business Activity Center, 2500 Fleur Drive, at the inaugural “Hoops For Shelter” game April 1. Since its inception five years ago, the grannies have competed against some unlikely opponents for various causes.

“I look in the newspaper, and whenever I see a charitable cause, I call up the person and ask them if we can play for them,” said Jewell Chapman, team member and founder of the Hot Pink Grannies. “That way we can help their cause and get some games in, too.”

When the homeless problem in Des Moines lit up the news last year, Chapman naturally aligned with the cause, and the team quickly got on board.

“Going through an Iowa winter — I just can’t imagine anybody being outside during that,” Chapman said. “I don’t even like to camp in the summertime. In the wintertime it would be just terrible.”

But Chapman does like basketball, and she doesn’t have to search too far for a good excuse to play. The “Hoops For Shelter” game is against a team of high school students from throughout the city, including the Southeast Polk Teen Leadership Connection (TLC), which advocates community involvement by local youth.

“TLC wants to participate because TLC values kids being active in the community while staying away from drugs and alcohol,” said MacKensie Bills, TLC President at Southeast Polk High School. “We try to show the community that there are other ways we can get a thrill in life, and we do that by trying to help people in as many ways as we can. This is a great way to do so and also a very fun way, too. We are just glad we can be a part of it.”

Perhaps even more so, Central Iowa Shelter & Services is eager to be a part of it as well.

“Our major goal is to get people out to the event and raise awareness of the shelter, its services and the growing rate of homelessness in central Iowa,” said Tom Vance, Development Coordinator for Central Iowa Shelter & Services.

Vance said, along with operation costs, the proceeds would benefit the Transportation Shelter Services and communication programs for its clients, which help them get back on their feet through education and employment. According to an Iowa Institute for Community Alliances study, homelessness increased by 9 percent in central Iowa in 2009.

“This increase in homelessness in central Iowa is a community issue, and events like this provide opportunities for community members to address it,” Vance said. “Central Iowa Hoops for Shelter is a family-friendly, fun experience that does just that, and we hope it becomes a successful annual competition.”

To kick off the evening, there will be a free chili dinner for all attendees and athletes from 5:30-6:30 p.m. provided by New York Life. All ticket holders will have a chance to win door prizes including a 50/50 raffle in which the winner will receive half of the money raised.

There will also be a halftime performance by Just for Kix dance troupes from Ankeny. The Greater Des Moines Community Band will perform throughout the event. “Big Ken” from the “Big Ken and Colleen” show on Star 102.5 will be the evening’s emcee.

Tickets for the event are available for $5 and can be purchased at 205 15th St. through Tom Vance or by calling 284-5719. For more information, visit CV

History of the Grannies

Barb McPherson of Lansing, Iowa, modified the standard game of 1920s high school girls’ basketball to accommodate 50-plus women. Granny basketball isn’t just a normal game of hoops. Their uniforms must not allow any skin to show. In fact, if skin on the upper arm, legs or mid-section shows, a foul is called. Oh, and there is no running, jumping or stealing the ball from another player’s hands. Even though running is prohibited, hurrying is perfectly acceptable. The game is played on three courts using two guards, two centers and two forwards.

Caption: The Hot Pink Grannies are, from left to right: Mary Kay France, Carolyn Sutton, Karen Gideon, Roxie Menke, Linda Burke, Judy Harms, Jewell Chapman and Rita Leitzinger.