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Wildcats’ number one fan

You’d think at 94 she’d be slowing down a little, but for Lillian Doty of Spicer that was just not going to happen.     She has been a sports fan from day one, from playing basketball when she was a teenager in high school, to watching her brothers play, then her grandchildren and now her great grandchildren.     She’s at every basketball and football home game, and some away games, and she even went to the state tournaments this year, proud as punch to not only be there but to be cheering the team on.     Lillian is a very young 94. She drove her own car up until about four months ago but now relies on someone else to take her where she needs to go. One place she loves to go is New London Spicer High School, so she can support the Wildcats. She said the games are more exciting when she’s watching her grandchildren play. “I get up and get excited and holler ‘rah, rah.’” At the same time she’s waving a hand in the air. Her grandchildren know she’s there, she said, and so do the other players. Since she goes to every single game they’ve gotten to know her pretty well. She said they all like seeing her come to the games and her grandkids and some of the other players always come over to say ‘hi’ and let her know they appreciate that she’s there.     Lillian is such an avid fan that she’s been given the “Fan of the Year” award from both the basketball and football teams. She has also been presented with a football and a basketball, both signed by all the team members.     Her grandson, who is a junior at New London Spicer High School, presented her with it during a football game. “I sure am proud of that and the whole team signed it.”     Lillian said she enjoys those games so much and doesn’t miss a game.     Going to the state tournaments was really quite the thing, she said. “I wanted to go so I could cheer for them, holler a little bit and I did that and enjoyed it very much.”     She said they cut her grandson’s hair when they had a party for the basketball team because he had said if they won the tournament he would have his hair cut. “They did it right in front of everybody, she said, and his grandma helped a little too.” Lillian was watching and laughing at him as his hair was being cut. “He’s a cute kid.”     One of Lillian’s grandsons plays hockey and she’s gone to some of those games as well. “I like sports and understand them all enough so I know when they’ve made their points.”     On the wall in her living room are two huge pictures of the football players and the basketball champions. When asked if she was by any chance in one of the pictures since she was their number one fan, her response was “I’m a football fan, not a football player so I’m not in the picture.”     Lillian was born Feb. 3, 1916 to a very sports minded family. Her mother liked to go to all the sports games, she said, including a lot of high school games.     “My brother Fritz played….we lived in Willmar at one time and the football game was on the fairgrounds which is way on the north side of town. We lived way on the south side and my mother would walk the whole way across town to go and see my brother play.”     She said she must take after her mother because she enjoyed all those games as well. “I like the action, the running back and forth, seeing if they can keep the ball, who keeps the ball – I can follow them easily.”     Lillian played basketball when she was in high school but that was different from how its played today, she said. “In ways girls basketball has changed and in ways it hasn’t.” Lillian played guard and recalled how they only played on half the floor. Before playing on a team herself, Lillian said she watched her brother. “Once you got into it you kept on. I like to watch them.”     Basketball was the only sport she played, but she did take in the other sports. “It kept me busy, gave me something to think about, something to do, and my brother, who was two years older than I, played football and basketball so we had to go watch him play.”     And when Lillian got married and had children, her boys were in sports as well. “They’re grown up now and gone. Their boys are in sports and I like to go and watch my grandchildren play.” She also has great grandsons that play football and basketball. She’s also a great, great grandmother, but that great, great grandchild, which is her first, is still too young to play.     Lillian’s son Paul played at Concordia for a couple years on a football scholarship. She said he was a very good football player as well as a good basketball player and they would travel to the college to watch him play. “They would go to the different towns around the state and play so we followed him there too. This is when my husband was living. He enjoyed going too.”     Lillian is the youngest in her family and the only one left of seven children. She lives by herself and takes care of herself. She does some cooking, and gets a little bit of help from a granddaughter. “She comes and checks on me to see that I’m alright.”     Lillian said she likes having her come over because its someone to talk to and that makes a lot of difference. She does have a lot of relatives that stop over and the morning of the interview for this story she’d already been to a circle meeting and lunch at the restaurant in downtown Spicer. “They picked me up because they took my car away from me.” She added, “It’s not easy to be without a car after driving for so many years. They took it away about four months ago, otherwise I’ve been driving all the time.”     Lillian said she understands why they did that. “After all I’m old and your reactions aren’t as good as they used to be. I realize there are things I have to give up, but not too many yet anyway, and I can still get around.”     Lillian’s son, Jim, said the school gave his mom a free pass for all the football games. His brother, Paul, takes her to the games since he has a grandson that plays. “We’re (Jim and his wife, Pat) gone three months in the winter so Paul takes care of that. He played football at Concordia and football and basketball in high school.”     Lillian also has a grandson, Gideon who cuts ice for the Spicer Ice Castle and she goes to watch that almost every year as well. “You get warm winter clothes on,” she said, noting she also goes to the ice fishing contest they have on Green Lake. “I was the oldest one there and I got a prize for being the oldest.”         Lillian has been very active her entire life. She and her late husband went to Texas every winter for 29 years, and did a lot of traveling over the years.     “I’ve been in every state and I took a train through Canada up to Hudson Bay. I’ve been in all the Canadian providences, I’ve been to Norway, Sweden and Japan. I’ve seen a lot of the world. Its quite a deal, but home is the best place to be.” Her husband was a Lion delegate and went to international meetings in the various countries, always bringing Lillian along.     Lillian even went to a few of the recent ice skating shows in Willmar and St. Cloud since her granddaughter was one of the skaters, another sport she’s very fond off. When she was young she did a lot of skating and remembers skating around Green Lake all by herself right after the lake froze over.     “I’d go in all the bays, in and out. I skated a lot when I was young.” She said she remembers walking to the farm after it started to snow and the lake froze over and a couple of times it was a little scary. “If I cut across the lake it was that much shorter and I can remember walking across there and the ice would crack and it sounded like I was going to go through the ice but I never did. At times I was scared but I went anyway.”     Lillian’s home is also filled with pictures she’s painted. She took a few lessons when they wintered in Texas, painting scenery and birds, then went on her own. She also used to do a lot of counted cross-stitch and has a lot of that on display as well.     Lillian and her husband owned school buses and she drove bus for 15 years, they owned a gas station and she worked there for many years, she did the bookwork at the locker plant for her brother as well.     “I’ve been a busy woman over the years, I didn’t sit around, I’ve been active all my life. She said her active lifestyle is probably why she’s so healthy and able to get around so easily at 94.     Jim and his wife, Pat, said Lillian inherited a few genes since her mom and two of her sisters were in their 90s when they died.     Lillian said she’s definitely not going to sit around and do nothing. She feeds the birds and squirrels in her yard, putters around outside a little bit, and plans to keep attending those games.     “I won’t quit going after the grandkids are done. I’ll find somebody else that I can ‘rah, rah, rah’ for.”

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