View photos of the action from today's competition by visiting NSGA.com/2017photos.
Pat Boone to Play (and Sing!) at The Games
Legendary entertainer Pat Boone is coming to Birmingham to play basketball and share a song with his fellow athletes.
Last Thursday, the recording, film and television star held a media announcement event at his West Hollywood office. Pat was joined by other senior athletes also heading east to compete in the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
This will be his second appearance in The Games, having played with longtime friend Jim Martin’s Virginia Creepers team in Cleveland in 2013. We previously shared a clip of Pat executing a behind-the-back pass that resulted in a basket for his team. The Creepers’ 80-84 team takes the court Thursday and Friday at the BJCC.
Pat has also graciously agreed to take the stage to sing a song during the Celebration of Athletes, to be held Friday, June 9 at the BJCC Legacy Arena starting at 7 p.m.
Tennis is his everyday exercise sport, but basketball has been a lifelong passion going back to shooting hoops with his dad as a lad. Pat once owned a professional team before the NBA was formed, and helped organize a Hollywood celebrity league to raise money for charity. His role will be a supporting one, since he has not been able to practice as much with the team as the others. “I'm out practicing my one hander, left and right hooks,” he says. “I will not be a star out there, but I think I've still got it!”
By: Del Moon
Games Daily Recap
Non-Ambulatory Sports: Veterans Get Helping Hand to Compete
Beginning in 2015, non-ambulatory event categories for bowling, horseshoes and shuffleboard have been offered at National Senior Games to broaden the opportunities for senior athletes of all abilities. This year, a special federal grant is making it possible for some disabled veterans to get into The Games.
In 2014, NSGA was awarded a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help disabled veterans with assistance to cover event registration and travel costs, as well as to purchase adaptive sports equipment for some member state games and at the national level. It also allowed us to host non-ambulatory sports clinics in 2016 with regional VA facilities to promote and recruit disabled veterans.
As a result, the grants are making dreams come true for eight veterans, including two women, who will be participating in non-ambulatory sports at the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana. Watch for photos and comments to come as we follow their activity through The Games.
“We hope that more people, and not just veterans, take advantage of the opportunity to compete in a national sporting event,” says NSGA Board Member DeWayne Vaughn. “Not only do we want vets from earlier conflicts like Vietnam to become active with Senior Games, we are also aware that many men and women from the Gulf War era now reaching 50 and over. We are proud to serve those who have so honorably served the rest of us.”
Vaughn served for many years as executive director of the National Veterans Golden Age Games, and was instrumental in bringing them into the NSGA family as qualifying Games in 2004 to increase veteran opportunities to compete. NSGA is honoring Vaughn with recognition as one of the 30 Champions of The Games during our 30th Anniversary celebration. Visit NSGA.com/30Anniversary to find the 30 Champions plus many enjoyable features, athlete profiles and memories.
By: Del Moon
Village SAFE Screenings Promote Health and Wellness
Visit the Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) booth in The Village Health & Wellness Expo to take a proactive step in promoting your wellbeing. Physical therapists will administer the SAFE, which evaluates cardiovascular risk factors, strength, flexibility and balance. Participating athletes will receive feedback on their results as they relate to known normative data and will be alerted to any detected risks for disease or injury. The exam takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. Additionally, SAFE participants can bring their screenings report cards for personalized advice at one of three hour-long fitness clinics. Led by an ACE Master Trainer and physical therapist, the hands-on clinics will provide instruction in exercises that prevent injuries and enhance performance.
Developed as a research and service activity by Dr. Becca Jordre, physical therapist and board certified Geriatric Specialist, SAFE’s goal is to provide health education for Senior Games athletes by promoting wellness and injury prevention. “Most athletes have some area of the SAFE that could be improved upon. If we can detect those limitations early and alert the athletes, they are much more likely to stay healthy and competing. That’s our ultimate goal,” says Dr. Jordre. SAFE screenings were first conducted at South Dakota Senior Games in 2009, and have been at the National Senior Games since 2011. Don’t miss this opportunity to further your health!
By: Mary Johns
Fighting Parkinson’s Disease, One Swing at a Time
Andy Leighton will never stop doing what he loves, no matter what stands in his way. Andy has battled Parkinson’s Disease for seven years but does not let that stop him from competing. He especially loves playing pickleball, and is excited to take on some tough competition during the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
“This game reduces symptoms of Parkinson’s and may even ritard the progression of the disease,” said Andy.
Andy, 70, plays multiple sports including pickleball, tennis, rowing, and running. Andy even keeps weightlifting in his exercise routine, and says it helps him stay on top of his game. He believes that the more activity you do, the better off you will be.
“There’s some evidence that suggests that it reduces the pace of the disease, but it doesn’t stop it,” said Andy. “How much slower, you don’t know, but every day you can go out and play.”
Parkinson’s Disease affects movement of the body and may cause tremors. This progressive degenerative disease affects everyone in different ways.
Andy has a positive outlook on his situation. He never tries to predict the future and wakes up every morning and lives life to the fullest. “I can’t tell you what’s gonna happen in the future, but I can tell you what’s gonna happen today, and tomorrow, and the next day,” says Andy.
Not only is Andy here to show off his skills and fight Parkinson’s Disease, he’s here to win. “I’m not here just to be playing and fill up space,” says Andy. “I’m here to take the medal.”
This is Andy’s first year to qualify and compete in The Games. He recently retired and can now focus more on perfecting his pickleball skills. He is competing in men’s doubles and mixed doubles with his wife, Helen.
“We’re a decent team, so I’m hoping to make some noise in the tournament,” says Andy.
Keep on fighting, Andy!
By: Madison Lathum
“TEAM VULCAN” Powered by Alabama College Interns
Throughout the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana, an energetic staff of 16 is canvassing sport venues and events to gather stories, photos and video to produce the Games Daily Online news platform. Of that number, nine are communications students representing five different Alabama colleges and universities.
The interns receive assignments from a staff of four who also operate a complete Media Center that handles local and national media relations and provides credentials to working media at The Games. The Media Center also produces the Village Daily information flier athletes can pick up each day at the Village Health & Wellness Expo through June 12.
Schools represented are Alabama, Auburn, Birmingham Southern, Samford and University of Alabama at Birmingham. Because students claim different college allegiances, there was a need to rally everyone under a common banner. It was decided to call them TEAM VULCAN to represent Birmingham’s iconic Vulcan statue that overlooks the city.
“Everyone, from our staff to the athletes themselves, enjoys the energy, enthusiasm and enterprise exhibited by these aspiring young professionals," says NSGA Communications and Media Director Del Moon. “There is no substitute for working a daily schedule with deadlines and challenges to gain experience and confidence, and it’s great to see how they persevere, similar to the way athletes dig down deep to finish their competition.”
The other three team leaders are NSGA Communications Coordinator Mary Johns, serving as office manager, Thomas Coiner, photography and video editor, and Katie McCormack, news editor. Thomas and Katie are staff members with the Birmingham-based Knight Eady event and promotions agency which is helping NSGA with logistics and host market promotions for The Games.
Two others that are contributing to the team effort are videographer Alex Perkins and Ellen Nason, a recently retired writer from Louisville who produced features on behalf of Humana for The Games in 2013 and 2015. “I enjoyed my past experiences so much my husband and I decided to come to Birmingham,” Ellen explains. “As long as I was coming, I offered to contribute to ‘the Daily’ and have some fun profiling more athletes.”
Follow the Games Daily Online every day to enjoy the features and news produced by TEAM VULCAN. Previous day’s editions are just a click away on the page, and all editions will be archived for later viewing.
Stay Connected with the National Senior Games App
Get the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana in the palm of your hand with the National Senior Games app! Download the free app, brought to you by Humana, to access event info, schedules and results. Get to your location with venue information and maps. See what’s going on around The Games and interact with other athletes via the social media feed.
To download on your Apple or Android device, search “National Senior Games” in the Apple or Google Play store. Create a profile and start sharing your National Senior Games experience!
Determination Gives Tennis Champ Advantage On and Off Court
Elizabeth “Bobette” McCracken, 81, is a cancer survivor who faces challenges – on and off the court - with determination and the heart of a champion. She has competed in marathons and triathlons, but her true love has been tennis since she was a child growing up in Stonington, CT, where she still lives.
Bobette has had her share of victories, and is looking for more as she returns to tennis competition at the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana. Her goal in Birmingham is to win gold in women’s single and doubles. She has won two golds, a silver and a bronze in previous Senior Games and was a member of a team that won bronze in a United States Tennis Association Women’s Tournament.
The determination to win led her to gold in women’s singles competition at the 2015 Senior Games in Minneapolis despite having a knee replaced earlier that same year. “I worked my tail off to be ready,” she chuckles.
Bobette says one of her greatest memories of the Senior Games is winning gold in women’s doubles in the 2011 Games in Houston because she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She postponed surgery until her competition ended. How did she focus on the game after that diagnosis? Her reply is simple: “I wanted to win.”
Bobette’s well-rounded life includes creating desserts for a restaurant owned by a family member, raising mini-donkeys and ponies, running marathons, competing in triathlons, sailing, and starting a fitness business with one of her five children.
Her lifelong love of exercise began in Connecticut with tennis and sailing. She moved around a lot as an adult because of her husband’s career in the U.S. Navy. She says she put tennis on the backburner while raising her children but picked it up again in the 1990s after moving back to Stonington following the death of her husband.
The priority she places on exercise inspires her children and grandchildren to achieve their own athletic successes. One daughter is a personal trainer, one made the 1996 Olympic Trials as a marathoner, a son has participated in long-distance sailing races, and she has a granddaughter who plays on the local tennis team.
“Exercise is the magic pill” for a longer, healthier and happier life, says Bobette. She also is an advocate of staying active and competing because of the fun and camaraderie she has enjoyed at seven National Senior Games, and she’s already looking forward to the 2019 Games in Albuquerque.
“I meet people from all over the country in the tennis competition and have made great friends,” she says. She also finds inspiration in watching those who are in older age brackets come back to compete in the Senior Games.
“It keeps me going.”
By: Ellen Nason, NSGA Contributor
Humana Game Changer: Chris Wallace, 60, Maricopa, Arizona
Not many people are excited to turn 50. However, for Chris Wallace, that meant qualifying for the Senior Games for the first time, and he was thrilled. However, after a year of significant health setbacks—which included knee surgery, a hernia and a heart attack—Wallace was ultimately unable to compete that year. Throughout his recovery, he credits his motivation to compete in the Senior Games as helping him move forward and compete the following year. Wallace resumed his active lifestyle and recently achieved All-American status in triple jump, his proudest feat to date. Wallace will compete in the triple and long jump at the 2017 National Senior Games.