View photos of the action from today's competition here.
Team Hanson: Five Siblings Take the Plunge
When the five Hanson siblings dive into the pool at the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana, it will prove that dreams really do come true.
For Jim Hanson, getting Team Hanson (his two sisters and two brothers) to all compete in Senior Games was seven years in the making. A thrilling family experience at the 2010 Michigan Senior Olympics inspired the dream. Jim, a former All-American swimmer for Oakland University, persuaded sisters Jan and Kathy to travel and compete in Michigan, where their mother could attend. Touching moments and surprising success met the group.
Jan, despite being the only sibling without a competitive swimming background, won multiple medals with Jim and Kathy. “It was a surprise for me to earn my first medals at the 2010 event. As each of us finished our various heats, we placed our medals on Mom’s neck for safe keeping,” she says. For Jim, the experience was a defining moment, “My mom was grinning from ear to ear, and at that point, that’s when I thought, ‘Ok I need to get everybody up here.’”
Life challenges got in the way of a family journey to a Senior Games. In the past seven years, three siblings have fought cancer, with Jan currently in the last stage of an incurable blood cancer. The family also faced the passing of their mother.
Nevertheless, the dream lived on. When Jim, a Madison, Alabama resident, learned of the 2017 National Senior Games coming to Birmingham, he knew the time was right. “Birmingham was the tipping point. I knew I could probably drag my brother (Bill) who lives here in town with me, and I could talk my younger brother (Jon) in Georgia to coming. And Jan, I was just hopeful she would survive to make it. That’s just a blessing.”
Jim convinced the siblings to compete in 2016 qualifying Senior Games to bring Team Hanson to Birmingham. “It wasn’t enough for him to make it alone; he was determined to help lift all the rest of us up along with him,” Jan explains.
Whatever the competition results be, the family is most looking forward to being together. “No matter the outcome of individual races, participation and togetherness mean that we’ve already won,” says Jan. The same love of family is what kept Jim pursuing the Team Hanson goal, “I goaded everybody into competing this year just so we could do it as a family. I know our parents will be smiling from heaven.”
By: Mary Johns
Games Daily Recap
95-Year-Old Archer John Horwath is Aiming for More
John Horwath and archery have one major thing in common- age. Archery is the oldest sport in the world and John, who turns 95 in July, is the oldest bowman competing in the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
John’s passion for deer hunting led him to target shooting when a close friend introduced him to archery in the 50s. From then on, he put his gun away and only hunted with a bow. John went on to found the Saginaw Field and Stream Club, one of Michigan’s largest conservation clubs.
When he started his own family, John passed the sport along to his boys. They began shooting around age 12, and they continue to avidly bow hunt in Alaska. All of John’s family members have been to one of his tournaments, including a son who is closely tracking John’s shooting this week in Birmingham.
“I just love the sport of archery- it’s very competitive. You don't rely on six or eight other people, you are shooting against yourself,” says John. “I just try to better my score, and that’s what I shoot for. If I win a tournament or break a record that's great, and if I don't that’s okay.”
His love for the sport has motivated him to continue shooting for more than 60 years, and he’s aiming for more. John may have retired from his deer stand, but his shooting accuracy remains strong. Last year, John was named Florida Senior Games’ 2016 Male Athlete of the Year.
This year he is out to break more records. “He’s not just playing. He’s trying to do the best he can do,” says National Senior Games Archery Chair Tim Austin.
Recently, John took some time off the field to target his attention on family and friends, including celebrating his 75th wedding anniversary. While he admits this opening day of archery in Birmingham was the first time he has felt out of practice for a competition, he is all smiles for the simple joy of letting the arrows fly.
“I’m a little rusty today, but I’m doing all right,” he says.
John claims that this will be his last year at The Games, but he said the same thing when he turned 90. This year, he moved up the 95+ age division, and is now the only competitor.
“Of course, I’d rather be down in the 50s or 60s,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “but we can’t do anything about age catching up to us, can we?”
By: Caroline Watt
The Village: 30 Years on Display
What makes the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana extra special? This year is the 30th Anniversary of The Games!
Get a taste of history of the Senior Games Movement by visiting NSGA’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition in The Village Health & Wellness Expo. See how The Games have evolved from 1987-2017 with medals, torches, programs and other memorabilia on display.
For even more 30th anniversary content, visit our permanent commemorative microsite, here. View detailed history, vintage videos, poignant athlete memories of The Games, and more.
Thanks for celebrating 30 years of fitness, fun and fellowship with us!
Road to Recovery Takes Mike Devaney to 37 State Games … So Far
Mike Devaney’s journey to the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana only began a little over two years ago, but it has already taken him to 37 State Games to date, and he intends to keep going.
Mike was NSGA’s Athlete of the Month in December 2015. In the story, he spoke of his determination to get his life back on a healthier track after an illness. He had built a successful career developing casinos, but realized he was gambling with his life if he didn’t become more active. He set a goal to compete in race walking at all State Games to keep him on course, so we checked in on his progress as he heads into Birmingham.
Mike got off to a fast start and he hasn’t slowed down. Not only has he already competed in 37 State Games, his steady improvement has spawned a new goal to win a medal in the 1,500-meter race walk event taking place Thursday morning at Samford Track Stadium.
“Winning wasn’t important at first, but as I started to improve, my competitive juices flowed,” says the resident of Miami, Arizona, who chose race walking because previous injuries made running competitively impossible. “But even if I’m not capable of winning, it is worth it.”
He reels off a list of cities where he has made new friends and memories on his road to recovery, and he now encourages others to begin their own journey of discovery.
“The friends and social aspect are the most important part,” he says. “Competition is why you are there, but that is over in 10 minutes, “ and emphasizing that the emotional, mental and physical benefits from the camaraderie and social connections are endless.
“There is something for everyone at the Senior Games, and it is never too late to get out and do something,” he continues. “It is so rewarding. You may not realize how important it is if you haven’t experienced it, but you do once you are there and begin meeting new people, socializing, and traveling. All the problems of the world go away.”
As he closes in on his current goals, he is already looking forward to logging more miles and making new friends and memories at more local and state Senior Games and in Europe. “My times are still improving, and I have no plans to slow down at all,” he says. “I made that a goal early in life.”
By: Ellen Nason, NSGA Contributor
Use the All-Access Pass for Deals to Birmingham’s Best
Athletes will receive an All-Access Pass to some of Birmingham's best restaurants and entertainment in their athlete bag. Local attractions featured include Birmingham Originals Restaurants, The Birmingham Barons, and rising stars of Birmingham's brewery scene. A full list of participating vendors is available here. Athletes may use the card at any of the participating establishments during the duration of The Games, June 2-15. Additional cards for guests of the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana may be purchased in The Village Health & Wellness Expo for $5. Get ready to enjoy the best Birmingham has to offer!
National Senior Games Weather Hotline
In the event of inclement weather, please call one of two hotlines for the most up-to-date information. For tennis, call 205-458-8366. All other sports, call 205-458-8888
Concrete Court Comedian
When it comes to entertaining figures on the tennis courts, few can match the wit of singles player William “Bill” Ligon of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Certain people are born for the bright lights, and Bill is known for turning spectators into fans with his on-court quips. “Are you with ESPN? Am I going to be featured?” he jokes. While watching the energetic man compete, there is never a dull moment due to his jovial verbal volleys to the sidelines and self-congratulations or scoldings during a match. “That’s not going on television is it?” Bill jokes as he glances towards the sidelines after an errant shot. No, Bill, but maybe it should be!
By: Stephen Porier
Humana Game Changer: Robert Rusbosin, 65, Venice, FL
Robert Rusbosin had always viewed basketball as being “for kids” before realizing how much fitness affected his health and well-being. While pursuing his passion and teaching middle-school kids in Honduras and Italy, Robert fell in love with the sport all over again. Atrial fibrillation temporarily halted him in 2001, but close monitoring and a procedure allowed him to come back in full force. The retired associate dean of Miami University regional campuses in Ohio, husband and father of two is ready to hit the courts at the 2017 National Senior Games with his team, the Hamilton Sharks.
Linda Heimann and Brenda Young share a connection on the tennis court that is closer than most partners in sport. That’s because they are twins. Now 68 years young, they found pickleball later in life and started their National Senior Games journey in Cleveland in 2013, falling in love with the community and positive atmosphere. “The people you meet are impeccable and fantastic. We just met those two ladies we played and they were just sweet as pie,” Brenda says.
They play pickleball almost every day of the week, but living in different states presents unique challenges for Brenda and Linda, because they had little time to practice as a team. They were thrilled to qualify in Florida for The Games. “I had to come down from Ohio to qualify for Nationals with Linda,” says Brenda. “People think that’s amazing. They ask why we would go from Clearwater to Birmingham to play pickleball. We would go anywhere to play pickleball!”
By: Gracie Murray