MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Lynx were not around when Darlene Kimpling was in high school. In 1978 they were just starting to put together organized teams for high school girls due in the wake of Title IX.

That’s where this story starts, but it’s certainly not where it ends.

Darlene Kimpling grew up in a small town where girls were just being allowed to play in organized leagues. She wanted to try out for the team, but comments about her weight and ability led to discouragement.

“My confidence went down. I didn’t believe in myself,” Darlene said.

She never forgot when she walked away from the opportunity to play. So when she was told that Lifetime Fitness offered private basketball lessons, she signed up.

And so, at age 52, Kimpling began a new journey. The goal was not to play in games, but to restore the dream and overcome her self-esteem issues.

“I think it’s always been there…I’m still intimidated. It’s weird, thinking my age, at 52, learning how to play basketball. But I just find it really exhilarating. I feel alive inside,” she said.

Kimpling’s becoming a bit of a folk hero at the club.

“It’s only when I go into the locker room, and they’re like, ‘You’re the basketball player,’ or someone has stopped me in the parking lot and said, ‘Wow! It’s been fun watching you improve in the last year.’ So it’s like, ‘Wow, people are really watching,” she said.

They’ve taken note of the woman who had the courage to live out her dream. And she’s having fun doing it. She’s a student of the game, and on a quest to get better.

Clarence Fields is a Lifetime Fitness Basketball Trainer, and works one-on-one with Darlene.

“I think the main thing is just her confidence. She’s such a perfectionist to a point where she can be a little impatient. So I think she was probably God-sent because I’m pretty much the same way,” Fields said.

Darlene hopes she can take what she’s learned and become a mentor.

“I definitely have more confidence. I know I’d love to find a child that had the same experience of me, and not believing in themselves, and just lifting them up and encouraging them to do what’s in their heart versus what somebody else is telling them they can’t do,” Darlene said.

Kimpling works with a trainer 2 to 3 times a week, and trains alone on other days.


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