Native American Team Carries Wisdom of “The Ancient Ones”
By Russell Barnes
The Anasazi Ladies were here to win - on and off the court. Despite the outcome of their afternoon game, they celebrated Sunday night. Team captain Mary Begaye smiled on the sidelines as her three teammates scored the first two shots of their match against the Arkansas Diamonds. They were oversized and outmatched. The Anasazi (a Navajo word meaning “Ancient Ones”) has only four players -- barely enough to compete three-on-three, especially against an opponent like the Diamonds, a team of seven that also boasts a significant height advantage.
With five minutes left in the first period, the short-handed shooters from the Southwest fell six points behind, yet they seemed unworried. “As long as we play our game, we are good to go,” Begaye said.
The Diamonds won 31-23, but the Anasazi team seemed anything but defeated. “We are still playing at 60 and over,” Begaye said. “I think that really means we keep ourselves in good health and we like to promote this to our younger Native Americans.”
The Anasazi Ladies live in Arizona but are spread around towns all over the state. They have played in New Mexico, Utah, California, Colorado and for National Senior Games. With 500 miles separating some members, they only get together once a year as a team. However, the members have known each other since they were in their early 20s, and gathering to play in Minnesota was this year’s chance to reconnect. Maggie Benally speaks of their special bond, saying, “As Native Americans, I think there’s always that relationship through kinship clans.”
“I play because it’s fun and it feels good,” fellow Anasazi lady Pat Nahee said. “When you’re running out there and you’re sliding across the floor, you feel like you’re flying.”
Begaye reiterated the importance of their example to youth, and says she repeats a traditional expression handed down to her: “Take care of the elder that you will become.”
Hoosier Joins Buckeyes for the Love of Volleyball
By Cara Desmond
Sports, as in politics, can sometimes make for strange bedfellows. Volleyball player Fred Steinhoff, 72, from Indianapolis,Indiana is returning to compete in his eighth National Senior Games, but this time with the Buckeye State team from neighboring Ohio.
The reason was simple: “My local team disbanded.” But there is no real rivalry in the addition of the Hoosier to the team from the east. It is all about the love of the sport and the fellowship found in The Games.
Steinhoff wasn’t very active in sports when he was younger, instead choosing to be in marching band activities. Now, he is a regular in volleyball leagues year-round, competing in the National Senior Games, USA Volleyball (USAV) and the Huntsman World Senior Games when they come around.
“One of the nicest things [about competing] is being in different towns, especially with USAV Nationals,” Steinhoff says. “You get to go to different restaurants and try different good beers. Playing in a team sport, you get to meet a huge number of really nice people from all of the country -- actually in some cases all over the world -- and that’s great fun.”
With all his travel and competition experience, Steinhoff has many stories to tell, including his pride of being Indiana’s flag-bearer at the 2013 National Senior Games presented by Humana, or the time his team had its bags looted during a game. He fondly recalls his first National Senior Games trip to Orlando in 1999. “It was at the Walt Disney Wide World of Sports complex, which had just opened. They reserved one of the theme parks for us, just for the seniors,for one evening. It was really nice of them to do.”
After Monday’s matches, Buckeye State was ranked third in its bracket, and Steinhoff said “we’re looking to to be taking home a medal.”
In his spare time, Steinhoff leads a Boy Scout troop and enjoys hiking and canoeing trips. He says he wants younger people to have a life : “Stay active, period. Whatever it is doesn’t really matter. Stay active.”
Balancing Competition with Sense of Community
By Dan Piering
Max Siu says he won big today during the 2015 National Senior Games presented by Humana. Siu took home a bronze medal in the long jump and a silver medal in the 50-meter dash in the men’s 60-64 division. What he prizes most, however, does not involve what was hung around his neck.
“We’re all sharing,” Siu said. “You know, our whole bodies are getting old, and so we’re kind of telling each other how to stay healthy, and how to do the training.”
Athletes around the track at the University of St. Thomas’ O’Shaughnessy Stadium warmed up together, shouted encouragement and pushed one another to be their best, reflecting both community and competition.
Siu doesn’t need to look far for inspiration. His brother, Hao-Ming,was selected to be a Humana Game Changer and was also among the finalists in today’s games. “Oh, that’s the most fun thing,” Max said. “You know, when you have family and siblings doing things together.” The brothers work hard to train and both have overcome leg injuries sustained in the past two National Senior Games. But they motivate each other to keep competing.
In other men’s track action Monday, all-star Oscar Peyton proved once again that he’s the sprinter to beat, taking home the gold medal in the 100-meter dash. Peyton, another Humana Game Changer and 2013 NSGA Personal Best athlete, clocked just two seconds behind the much younger Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt. The tall lanky sprinter has been as high as number two in USA Track and Field Masters rankings for men’s age 55-59 in the event. “Just give me 20 meters and I think I could beat him,” he said with a hint of a smile.
Visit the Results page under individual sports at NSGA.com where outcomes are posted as soon as they are verified.
Fox Finds Fellowship Amidst Triumph and Adversity
By Liz Anderson
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. At least that's how Vicki Fox saw it Sunday as she competed in over four events in track and field within mere hours of each other, and then faced another challenging day on Monday. In the end she toughed out some precious medals.
Fox, from Long Island, New York, didn’t start running until 2010 when she was 51. But once she started, she never slowed down. Fox completed 37 races by the end of 2011 and easily qualified for the 2013 Games, where she won two golds and a bronze in running events.
Now 56, Fox was in high spirits Sunday morning as she waited for her turn to throw the discus for the first time at the national games. She recalled her first track-and-field experience. At the start, Fox said she blew her competitors out of the water. It didn’t last long. “I was leading the pack, but of course they all passed me because I had no idea about pacing. I was just going and I had no idea how to run a race,” Fox said.
Fox’s approach to her new world of competition is to just jump into an event and try it out. “Anything I just start, I like, because I’m wingin’ it. But once I start figuring out the technical part of it, then I get all rigged out,” Fox said.
Just 30 minutes after finishing seventh in the discus competition, Fox was off again. She ran the 50-meter race and qualified for the final round on Monday. Fox said the constant movement makes her a better athlete and also a better friend because of the relationships she builds with others.
“Everybody is so nice and so fun. And social media is so great because we stay connected,” said Fox, whose performances and encouragement of others to pursue the sport earned her recognition as 2014 USA Track & Field Athlete of the Year for Long Island.
Monday, Fox was outperformed in the 50 meter event and finished fifth place for the 100 meter dash. Then, she found redemption in the women’s 200-meter as she surged from a slow start to capture the bronze medal. Fox also found silver in the 800-meter and long jump, and topped it off with two gold medals (in the 400-meter and 400 relay). Afterwards, her face bore a triumphant gleam.
“I love the diversity,” Fox said when asked what her favorite part about track and field events was. “This way, you got the sprints; every distance is different. The 50s, 100s, 200s, running the curve, running the straightway [and] the pacing on the 400.”
The dominant name in the women’s 55-59 sprints was Amanda Scotti, who is a lifelong top competitor and co-publisher of the National Masters News. Scotti now owns gold medals in the 50 and 100 meter events.
Full results for all events are posted as soon as they are verified in the Results section under individual sports at NSGA.com
Shuffleboard Champs Make Room for More Medals
By Joey Erickson
If a couple of gold medalists in this week’s singles shuffleboard competition looked comfortable atop the podium, it’s because they’ve been there before many times.
Monday night, Chuck Crouse finished first in men’s singles age 70-74 for his fifth time gold medal in five trips to The Games. Ruth Parker won her fourth National Senior Games gold medal with a top place in women’s singles in the 90-94 age division.
Crouse will be inducted into the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame later this month in Lakeside, Ohio. He also won a gold medal with his wife in the doubles competition in Minnesota. Crouse says the thrill of victory hasn’t faded for him. “The competition was a little tougher this year, but otherwise it feels about the same,” Crouse said.
While she still enjoys winning, Parker said nothing compares with the first time she took home the gold at the 2009 Games in San Francisco. “The first one is always the best one. When I got my first gold medal in California the whole family went with me. I think in anything you, do the first one is the best,” she said.
Parker hopes to be back for the next Games in Birmingham. “I always tell people, this is how you stay young.”
3 Questions - David Sabino, David Sabino, 62, Rochester, Michigan, Competing in Pickleball
What have you enjoyed most about the games?
I have enjoyed the people. You come here and you see people that you’ve played with or played against all over the country. There’s this camaraderie in pickleball that you don’t have in any other sport.
Are you planning on coming back to The Games?
I played in Cleveland in the first time they had pickleball there. I played here and I’m sure I’ll play it in the next one.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home?
I’m going to Disneyland (laughs). I’ll kiss my wife, of course. Don’t tell her about the Disneyland part. Okay, I’ll do both.
Hoop Dreams Endure on the Hardwood
By Andrew Ruffing
Squeaks and dribbles from the court could be heard as family and friends of athletes roared for loved ones. Cheers erupted with each satisfying “swish” of the net.
Athletes from across the country came together Monday to play National Senior Games three-on-three basketball at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. “Great competition. Nice friendly rivalries. A lot of good stuff,” Massachusetts Miracles player Mal Cotton, 64, of Boston said.
The athletes have worked hard to earn the cheers of family and friends. Bedford County Dinos player Phyllis Smith, 66, from Shelbyville, Tennessee, said her team has been playing since the 2011 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Houston, and the hoopsters have moved up from a sixth place finish then, to fifth place at the 2013 Games in Cleveland, and have improved to fourth place in the women’s 65-plus age range at this year’s Games.
Smith saw room for improvement this year. “You get in the moment and then you rush your shot or you miss the rebound. You dribble too far. There is a lot of things that happen while you’re out there on the floor.” For the next National Games, however, she says she won’t settle for third or even second place. “In Birmingham, in 2017, we’re going to be [number] one!” Smith said.
TRIA Provides Support for Senior Athletes
By Amy Adamle
An orthopaedic center that opened in Bloomington, Minnesota, in 2005 is providing care to senior athletes competing in the 2015 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
TRIA Orthopaedic Center, which offers “comprehensive orthopaedic care, from diagnosis to treatment to surgery,” became a sponsor of the national games after supporting the Minnesota Senior Games last year. “TRIA ’s mission is to provide our patients and community with exceptional musculoskeletal care supported by innovative education and research,” says Amy Hamilton, TRIA’s sports media program manager. She says The Games are a fit with their mission and the experience is benefiting the staff of TRIA.
TRIA team members Beth Klute, Jonny Direcks and Annie Vavre worked at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center. They said it had been quieter than they expected. “We partnered with Novacare and Inver Hills Community College EMS team, so they took more of the low-risk sports so we could have people at almost all of the events,” Klute, an outreach athletic trainer at TRIA, said. TRIA has about 45 staff members at the combined events.
“As a whole it’s been going really well. We’ve prepared for the worst, but it’s been good,” Klute said. Direcks added that sites are different depending on the intensity of the sport.
The TRIA trainers try to move to different events each day to give them a broader picture of all of the sport activities offered by the national games.
“It's a great event to be a part of. The athletes are unbelievably inspiring and an athlete is an athlete no matter the age, so they're susceptible to injuries too," Hamilton said.