You’re never too old to play

Connie Fried, coach and mentor of Hill View’s volleyball team

The Hill View Retirement Home volleyball team

The Hill View volleyball team practicing volleyball as they prepare for their upcoming tournament

The residents of Hill View playing the game they love

Hill View Retirement Center has something special for its residents you wouldn’t think of for a retirement homes. Hill View has its very own volleyball team.

The team, which sports bright green team shirts emblazoned with the home’s logo, was started by Connie Fried, who moved to Ohio from a Florida retirement home when she turned 85. She says she moved to be closer to family. She also brought volleyball with her from the Sunshine State, where her former retirement home had a team with whom she played versus area retirement homes and nursing homes teams.

“I thought I would start it, and you can see [how it’s been accepted],” she says, pointing to the team playing. There were 17 playing at the time. “We’ve been playing ever since I came, about a year and a half. We are planning on going to Athens to play in the Ohio State Chair Volleyball Tournament on May 18th.” She says everyone on the team will go, because the game is played whether participants are in a wheelchair or just sitting in chairs. Fried also says players can play even if they only have one arm, noting thata lot of women who have had breast cancer can now only use one arm. “Whatever your disability is, they can play.”

Ironically, the chairs used at Hill View have wheels, but that may not be so at the tournament. “We’ll see when we get there,” she says humorously. Fried says that when she first introduced the game to the residents, she figured they’d play once a week. But then someone asked her, “Can’t we play another day?” So they started playing Wednesday and Friday mornings. And after that, she had someone tell her they couldn’t get up that early. She then had them play one night a week, and now they also play two nights a week. She laughs and says most of the residents were at Wednesday’s practice because they knew they were having their picture taken with their shirts.

So is she the coach? “Well, I brought the game up here, but I was in Florida for two weeks and Sue Harris continued the game while I was gone. They have so much fun; they know the rules.” Fried is not one to be the focal point, so she keeps pointing to all of her team. She also speaks of the camaraderie the residents have, and that they have a lady who has Alzheimer’s, and her daughter told her that since her mother has been playing, she has been like a new woman. Fried says that is why she keeps the team going. “I’m so excited and happy with this group. Anybody that wants to play can play.” Members of the team say (in unison) they absolutely are excited to play.

“We want people to know there are these kinds of activities going on here,” Fried says. “People are not just sitting here in their apartments watching TV.”

Alisa Barnett adds, “If you’re bored at Hill View, it’s your own fault.” She also says volleyball is just the tip of the iceberg, that there are so many activities the residents can do.

Fried is a retired school teacher. She coached the swim team to the nationals in Florida in the 1970s. She taught physical education and also biology. Her last job was one of the best jobs she ever had, and it was at the Alternative Learning Center. She says she has a daughter in California who works with the Autism Society

Barnett says Fried is doing other things at the retirement home, and Fried admits, “Well, we’re working on line dancing.” She wants to work on a writer’s club, because the residents have such good stories to tell and their children should know that they, too, may have gotten in trouble in school or whatever. “I’ll always be a teacher.”

The team practices by playing each other, and the practices often involve plenty of shouts and laughter. What a joyous sound that most people are not used to when speaking about retirement homes.

Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928