80-year-old basketball player collecting gold

basketball player
Lyle Timmons (R) shows off his medals with friend Spanish Fork Councilman Mike Mendenhall. Photo: Courtesy Mike Mendenhall

Not many athletes can boast of a gold medal count in the 40s, but even more impressive than Lyle Timmons medal count is his age.

At 88 years old, Timmons is hoping to add to his medal count this October at the Huntsman Senior Games in St. George. He will be playing with the Utah Pioneers basketball team out of Spanish Fork. “We get the gold every year!” Timmons said.

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Lyle Timmons with his softball and basketball teams at the World Senior Games.

The Utah Pioneers is made up of players from Spanish Fork, Payson and Lehi, all in their 80s. “Our division is 80 to 85 so I play down with the young guys,” Timmons jokes.

The team also competes in senior games in Pasadena, Pocatello and Elko.

Timmons has been playing basketball since he was a young teen. He started at the Robinson Intermediate School in Wichita, Kansas. He went on to play for Andover High School and as a point guard at Wichita State University.

When he first started, Timmons said he was the last man on the bench because he had never played with a team before. He built his own backboard and rim in his yard to shoot baskets. He made his own ball, too. “I had an old basketball that was flat, so I took the bladder out of a football, put it in the basketball covering and laced with up with a shoelace.”

“But by the end of the year, I could outshoot all the starters because I practiced 3 or 4 hours a day.”

He is still one of the best shooters around and regularly wins shootouts, free throw, three point and hot shot competitions¬†against¬†much younger men — still in their 50s. He wins gold in every event.

One goal that has eluded him is making 25 free throws in a row. “I’ve got 24 or 23, but can’t quite get that perfect score,” he said.

Timmons loves sports and also plays on a softball team. He and his wife, Jeanne, live in Spanish Fork. The couple has 8 children. His kids, grandkid and great-grandkids all have come to watch him play and he’s passed the love of sports down to the next generation.

Timmons sees himself continuing to play basketball. “You bet. Even in the far future,” he said. “I’m hoping to be able to shoot free throws when I’m 100.”