Transitions: Becky Wesley to Retire after 20 Years of Service
The new year is bringing a big change for NSGA as Becky Wesley, our Vice President of Association Relations, will be retiring in March after 20 years of truly distinguished service.
Wesley, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, joined the NSGA staff in 1997, the year that Tucson hosted The Games. In 1999, she became Executive Assistant to the President & CEO, and rose to her current position two years later. Wesley served as the key liaison between the National Headquarters, NSGA Member Organizations, and the Board of Directors. In addition, she planned the NSGA Annual Conference and board meetings, and always shouldered key roles in the coordination and production of the biennial National Senior Games.
As a testament to her contributions, Wesley was selected as one of the "30 Champions of The Games" that were part of NSGA's 30th Anniversary commemoration activities in 2017.
"Becky Wesley has been the backbone of our operations for two decades, without a doubt," says NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker. "She has always gone above and beyond, and has made a positive impact for everyone in the Senior Games Movement. We will miss her, but are happy that she will have more time to spend with her grandchildren."
Becky Sewell Promoted
We are pleased to announce that Becky Sewell has been named to replace Wesley as the new Director of Association Relations. Sewell has been on our staff since 2014 as NSGA's Director of Athlete and Partner Relations, and was previously director of the Kansas Senior Games for 13 years.
"I am excited for this new opportunity with NSGA. It wouldn't have been possible without Becky Wesley who has been my mentor, colleague and friend. I wish her nothing but great adventures in her retirement," Sewell says.
Welcome Carrie Fehringer!
Sometimes replacing talented staff can be a challenge. Fortunately, NSGA found the perfect person to take over Becky Sewell's role. Carrie Fehringer, who has been involved with organizing the Rocky Mountain Senior Games for two decades, has agreed to leave her native Colorado to join NSGA as the new Director of Athlete Relations.
Fehringer, who holds two degrees, played volleyball in college and minored in physical education with an emphasis on coaching. This sports passion opened a career path after graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in 1997, when she landed a job as a recreation coordinator with the City of Greeley's Senior Activity Center. One of her major responsibilities was organizing and coordinating the Rocky Mountain Senior Games, so she brings a wealth of experience to NSGA.
She is no stranger to the National Senior Games either, having worked with NSGA staff at The Games in both 2015 and 2017, which gave her valuable insight into the special needs and pressures of staging major events. "Senior Games was the best part of my job in Colorado, and I'm excited to be able to work with athletes and partners at the national level," Fehringer says.
Two Great Athlete Features Kick Off Personal Best Class of 2018
The Personal Best series is now in its sixth year as NSGA's mission-driven initiative to promote active aging. The variety of athlete stories we present show that everyone can pursue their own Personal Best, and has generated significant publicity to our cause. We kick off the Class of 2018 with two dynamic individuals who overcame different obstacles and challenges to find their path to fitness and good health.
Carol Klenfner - This New York City native has taken a unique path in life and is not afraid to take risks. Only she can say she once worked with some of the greatest classic rock and roll bands, and now rocks her competition in table tennis in Senior Games. Read about how a series of midlife challenges led Carol to rediscover the paddle and ball after 50 years, and how being a senior athlete makes the 72-year-old feel like a rock star.
Mike Stacks - It's a great accomplishment to record the fastest finish in a National Senior Games triathlon. When Mike Stacks crossed the line two minutes ahead of the next athlete last year, heads turned to find out who the newcomer was. However, no one was more surprised, or thankful, than the 52-year-old from Tennessee, because he only started competing in road races less than six years before his triumph in Birmingham. What captured our attention is the way he turned his life around after sinking into a deepening rut involving weight gain, tobacco use and excessive drinking for over two decades.
Watch for new Personal Best features in February and March, with several more to follow in the coming months. Some will include visits to their states, so stay tuned!
It's Qualifying Year!
If it's an even-numbered year, athletes know it's time to dial in skills and build up strength to qualify for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana, which is coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico between June 14-25 next year.
The State Information page at NSGA.com is where you can find 53 qualifying games around the country where you can punch your ticket to national competition. You can also download a general calendar and a master sheet of contacts. Most of our Member Games have already set dates for their qualifying events. Others are in the late stages of confirming sport venues and other details, and will be posting their information as soon as possible. NSGA will update the page as details are provided.
Click on the icon for the state you are interested in to find dates, sports, website and contact information to help you make your plans. Good luck!
HUMANA Heroes: Athlete of the Month
Second Chance at a Dream
Liz Sharp has always believed in giving second chances, and has witnessed it many times as a personal assistant and administrative consultant with pastors in North Louisiana over the past 32 years. She put that belief into action with her own ministry that has operated a rooming house in Monroe since 1998. "We help people get a second chance at life," she says. "We have seven rooms and help whoever God sends over here in need," adding that this has included elderly people who were abandoned by their families. The call to serve also includes ten years in uniform with the U.S Army and Reserves, inspired by her father's career as a fighter pilot. She is proud to have been among first full platoon of women to complete military police school, as well as enduring drill sergeant school at the age of 35. However, her accomplishments and positive attitude covered the bitter disappointment of a lost chance at an Olympic dream. Liz says she was "blessed with a natural athletic body" and her talent was recognized when she made the track and field team at the University of Illinois. "My coach was Dr. Nell Jackson, who was a member of the USA Olympic Track Team staff. That opened a path to try out for the Olympics."
Liz became nationally ranked in the high jump and discus and qualified for the U.S. team trials. "My chances were probably very thin, but the dream was alive," she says. Then, a freak accident happened one day before qualifying events in Colorado Springs. "I was walking across a mall in Denver and hopped over a little hedge. I slipped on the wet grass and landed on my tailbone. I couldn't speak for 20 minutes because I was in so much pain," she recalls. "The injury ended my dream right there." The dream rekindled four decades later when a former college roommate told her about being in Senior Games in 2016. "I learned you had to qualify, and that the Louisiana Senior Olympics were in a few weeks, which didn't give me much time to prepare. It had been 42 years since I had done anything but my regular weight lifting." However, she figured her college experience and attention to fitness would help.
"I learned the importance of staying active when I earned my physical education degree," she explains. "I'm glad I kept up my weightlifting to be able to even try this."
Liz could not find throwing implements in local stores, and it would take ten days to receive her online order. "So I went to Wal Mart and bought a five pound weight to practice shot put," she says with a laugh. The implements arrived two days before her competition. "I was nervous about even qualifying, and was shocked when I won all three events for my age."
Now facing national competition at the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana, Liz admits "I really had to beef up my faith" and just hoped to place in one of her events. In Birmingham, the 70-year-old was rewarded with one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. "I couldn't believe it, I was so happy," she says.
Liz is thankful for her own second chance at an Olympic dream at the age of 69, and has new goals to set records at National Senior Games and in masters competition. "I have now seen my senior competition, and there is still the fierceness and determination in them that makes me think, 'Hey, I'm in the right place.'"
"There are dreams that you have when you are young, and I can't describe the feeling I have getting the opportunity to go back and accomplish this 40 years later," she adds. "Everyone needs to have the guts to revisit their dreams and see if they are obtainable."
We're always looking for great athlete stories! Submit yours, or nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you. Click here for the submission form.
Senior Health and Wellness
New Fitness Training Videos Posted at NSGA.com
This is the time of year for athletes of all abilities to begin or continue to build on a solid fitness foundation to help them qualify to go to Albuquerque for the 2019 National Senor Games presented by Humana. With a little help from our friends, NSGA has added a new Fitness Video page in the updated Health and Wellness section of our website as a resource.
The Fitness Video section consists of five fundamental fitness exercises selected by NSGA Foundation board member Dr. Becca Jordre, who leads the ongoing Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) research project. In the easy-to-follow videos, Jordre introduces each exercise by explaining why it is important to senior athletes for injury prevention and functional fitness.
Each video also features Sabrena Jo, a certified Master Trainer with the American Council of Exercise, (ACE), which is an NSGA partner organization. The videos target exercises such as Core Activation, Stretching for Posture, Rowing, Triceps Extensions, and Bicep Curls. In them, Jo effectively demonstrates each exercise and provides coaching to athletes W.D. Foster, David Erikson and Carolyn Hartfield.
Funding for the project was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and two of the featured athletes, Foster and Erikson, are military veterans who compete in non-ambulatory sport divisions. NSGA greatly appreciates their service and participation in this project.
The videos are available on the NSGA YouTube Channel, but you can directly access the videos from the Health and Wellness page below. Let's get started!