One Hurricane fan takes women’s basketball to a whole new level.
Edith Bleich sits in a luxury black leather lounge chair courtside. Her feet dangle above the ground as she cheers on the team.
In 1926 Bleich was a student at the University of Miami. Now, Bleich is 101 years old and turns 102 in July.
“I feel so blessed to be alive and healthy,” the soft-spoken Bleich said.
The Miami Shores resident commutes to Coral Gables for all of the women’s basketball games. Her niece and nephew accompany her to every game.
Bleich has had a passion for basketball since she was an adolescent. She played basketball for her high school team in Massachusetts and fell in love with the sport.
Eighty years later her passion has transcended the decades and she remains a committed fan of the sport. She loves spending her free time watching the Lady Canes play at the BankUnited Center.
At the men’s games, there is a group of fans titled “Haith’s Faithful” in honor and respect for sixth-year head coach Frank Haith. The women’s team has a similar fan base: they have “Katie’s Krew” which is in honor and respect for fifth-year head coach Katie Meier.
Bleich is a proud member of “Katie’s Krew.”
“Katie [Meier] has adopted me,” Bleich said. “She is so sweet and last week I got to visit with her parents when they came in from Ohio. It was so nice.”
Meier understands the value of their relationship.
“I love her to death, she is a good luck charm and a great fan,” Meier said.
To Meier, Bleich is an inspiration.
“I remember one time I was yelling at my girls,” Meier recalled. “I told them ‘you’re not tired. Edith is here and she is 100 years old and still cheering. You are all 19 and 20 years old, if she can do it you can do it.’”
Bleich is not only a supporter of Hurricane Athletics, but she is also a huge Miami Dolphins fan. She is a frequent visitor to Sun Life Stadium and legendary former head coach Don Shula recently honored her for being such a devoted fan.
While she was a student at UM, Bleich played pick-up games in her spare time when she wasn’t studying. She graduated in 1939. She was a teacher for over 52 years but her most unique teaching experience came in December of 2008.
Meier honored Bleich by tabbing her as guest coach for a game against Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Bleich got to go in the locker room and mingle with the players.
“It was a great experience,” she said.
President Donna Shalala has fond admiration for Bliech’s courage and strength.
“She has so much spirit,” Shalala said. “She demonstrates that you don’t lose your enthusiasm for life with aging.”
Bleich recently missed three straight home games because she was feeling under the weather, but she attended last Sunday’s game against Georgia Tech while wearing a pink sweater to support breast cancer awareness. Bleich plans on attending the season finale on Sunday at the BankUnited Center at 2 p.m. against Boston College.
“I am just so blessed to be around so many great people,” she said. “You don’t know how lucky I am.”
Justin Antweil may be contacted at email@example.com.
Getting To Know Edith
4UM graduate in 1939 4Member of “Katie’s Krew”
4Avid Miami Dolphins Fan
4Guest coach in December 2008 for women’s basketball game