Age does not limit ability to accomplish goals by Bob Karolevitz St. Joseph, Mo. (delayed) � We have spent four days in this historic city while watching the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits win the 2003 National Women�s Division II Basketball Championship.
Among the hundreds � some say at least 2,000 � of loyal, die-hard fans who followed the team to the Elite Eight were 95-year-old Howard Sauer, a long-retired sociology professor at the college, and Ella Ollenberg, a 92-year-old alumna who once was the home Extension agent for Yankton County in years gone by.
I was in St. Joe, too, and I like to say that there were dinosaurs in the street when I first enrolled in the Brookings school before World War II.
But the event we were attending really belonged to a youthful generation � from six-foot nine-inch Suzie Gyarfas of the California (PA) Vulcans to little Heather Sieler, the freshman point guard for the Rabbits who was named to the all-tournament team, along with Melissa Pater, who was also chosen as MVP (Most Valuable Player).
As I watched the young ladies from such tiny towns as Raymond, Colton and Holland, MN, perform athletically for the Jacks, I got to thinking that those of us who are older and hopefully wiser often �put down� the younger people as insignificant partners in that game called life.
Still, wasn�t Peter Shannon just 17 years old when he was with the Lewis and Clark Expedition as it passed by the future site of this town on the Missouri River some 200 years ago?
And how about Sacagawea, the Shoshoni teenager who played such an important role on the westward trek?
That point became even clearer to me when we visited the Pony Express Museum in the preserved brick stables which stood at the eastern terminus of the experimental cross-country mail delivery system.
There � amid the names of the other riders � we found 11-year-old Charles Miller, who had signed on as a substitute carrier. He then became a regular rider in the famous postal service which began on April 3, 1860.
Before the transcontinental telegraph lines and the railroad replaced it some 19 months later, Miller rode a 10-mile leg of the route which ended at Sacramento, CA, half a continent away. By then he was only 12 or 13 years old.
Can you imaging someone that young galloping through the wilderness before he was relieved by another rider at the next station? I can�t!
�Bronco Charley� � as he came to be known � not only survived his Pony Express escapades, but he lived to the ripe old age of 105. They say that when he was 71, he needed to do �something adventurous,� so he rode horseback from coast to coast, an ordeal that took him seven months. But that�s another story.
Age, it seems, does not limit a person�s ability to accomplish a goal � and that brings us back to the basketball tournament we�ve just enjoyed.
It may not mean much to lots of folks to make it to the Elite Eight, but beating California State Bakersfield, the Bently Falcons from Waltham, MA, and the Northern Kentucky Norse on the way to the championship is something the youthful Jackrabbits will remember for a long, long time.
And so will their 28-year-old coach, Aaron Johnston.
When we leave St. Joseph, we�ll try to remember that you don�t have to be wizened and gray to achieve success.
� 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz