On a typical Thursday night, the Starkey family of Schaumburg can be seen taking over the softball fields at Olympic Park.
Not only because their team Stars N Streichs, which is in Schaumburg Park District's Coed Thursday 12-inch Rec National League, was undefeated through the first two games of the playoffs, but because it is uncommon to see a mother, father, son and granddaughter play the same night.
"You see fathers and sons playing together on a team, but you rarely see a mother-son team, let alone mother-father-son," Linda Starkey said.
The team includes 72-year-old pitcher Frank Starkey, 61-year-old catcher Linda Starkey and their 36-year-old son and left fielder Brad Starkey. At one point, Frank and Linda Starkey's daughter and son-in-law were on the team, but they since have moved to Indiana.
The love of softball has carried over to Brad Starkey's daughter, as she is currently in her third year playing with the Schaumburg Athletic Association, the third generation on the field.
It is common to see a shared interest passed down generations, but rarely is it seen each week by so many family members.
Linda Starkey started playing slowpitch softball after high school. Later, when their daughter joined a team, Linda and Frank started coaching.
"I taught myself how to coach fastpitch, we went to camps, did seminars. I really made an effort to learn the game to be the best coach I could be," Linda Starkey said.
After coaching 13 years for the Schaumburg Athletic Association, they had an itch to continue playing, so they joined a coed league in 2002. Many of the girls they coached are now playing with them on Stars N Streichs.
Though there have been some health obstacles, the Starkeys' passion for softball wins every time.
After a game in July 2002, Frank Starkey had a heart attack. With a pacemaker -- and despite a torn rotator cuff -- he is still pitching every game.
"When my son tells me, 'Pops, you're not very competitive anymore,' that's the day I quit," Frank Starkey said. "I'll probably quit before then; he won't have to tell me. But I feel like I'm very competitive now.
"How often does a family come together and all do something close almost every week? No one does that," he added.
With the team headed into the championship round in the playoffs, the older Starkey family members were already making plans to stay for next year.
"We look at each other every spring and ask, 'Are we going to do this?' I don't want to quit until he quits," Linda Starkey said. "I love to play with my son. There's nothing more fun than being on a base, he's batting behind me, and I hear him yell, 'Run, Ma, run.' That's what keeps us going."
"Your age should never stop you. If you can play, you should play," Frank Starkey said.
"How can I say I'm too old to play when he's 72?" Linda Starkey added.