Super Senior: Stan Wilbur and Don Gilman

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 4:09 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Every time Stan Wilbur and Don Gilman pick up a basketball they’re in hoop heaven. But what’s amazing -- besides their age -- is what the two plan for the future.

It’s opening time at the Rutland Recreation Community Center and the regulars are arriving, including Stan Wilbur and Don Gilman, basketball buddies and senior gym rats.

“His movement on the court is not as much as you think,” said the 80-year-old Gilman. “It takes a while to get warmed up, you know.”

Wilbur is just a month short of 81. “There’s one. We’re done” Wilbur said.

“See how he shows off!” Gilman said. “I’ll trash talk the guy I’m guarding. All the game, I’ll trash talk him.”

As trash talk goes, this is Rated G. But these guys are teammates. They can only shoot and throw the ball around. The rules say no contact because of COVID... for now. “If we can get another three guys from Rutland County over 80 to play ball, then we have a team,” Wilbur said.

Call this a rebuilding year. The two became fast friends in their 50s, playing at the National Senior Games, a kind of Olympics for the senior set. They plan to represent Vermont again when the games resume next year.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What does maturity bring to the game?

Stan Wilbur: What does maturity?

Don Gilman: Nothing!

In 1958, the two had parallel careers before they ever met on the court. Gilman played for Rutland High School and Wilbur played for Burr and Burton. “1958 was a long time ago,” Gilman said. Back then, the two didn’t know each other but they shared the sports pages of the Rutland Herald and both won the state title in their division. “I had hair then.”

Don Gilman: I would have loved to play with Stan.

Stan Wilbur: With or against, yeah.

Don Gilman: or against him. I would have loved playing because he wouldn’t have scored!

But it was against the Detroit Metros, during the senior games, that the two got schooled in the game. “If you can see me, standing next to the guy I was guarding. There’s a little bit difference in physique,” said Wilbur. The Metros mowed down the Vermonters with their size and skill. “You can see the intensity.”

But Stan and Don left the hardwood with the same passion for the game. “I play ball. I’ve always played ball and I’ve enjoy it, but being able to do it is the important thing,” Wilbur said. “And a little bit of ego that we’re still here.

No lights out on their court. Both hope to shoot hoop into their 90s. “It’s always a good time when you can come and have fun like this,” Gilman said.

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