NSGA Visits City Hall
On March 13, NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker, right, presented Mayor Tim Keller with an official plaque recognizing Albuquerque as host city for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana. "We are excited that Albuquerque will be the destination for more than 10,000 senior athletes, their families and friends," said Mayor Keller. "Our city can't wait to cheer on these inspiring individuals as they compete for the gold!"
New Personal Best Feature: "Healing Waters"
NSGA's Personal Best initiative seeks to get (and keep) aging Americans moving. We have profiled many senior athletes who have encountered a wide range of obstacles. Each story points to a common truth: you have to find ways to deal with life's challenges to pursue your Personal Best.
Among these stories, no one has arguably faced a tougher roadblock than swimmer Cathy Cornell of Bakersfield, California. In our conversation with Cathy, we learn that water has always held her fascination, and with early success she had good reason to hope to try out to swim in the Olympics as a teen. However, her world suddenly turned upside down when, at age 18, she was raped by the manager of the pool where she worked. Frightened, intimidated, and ashamed, Cathy withdrew from college in 1976 said nothing about the incident for the next 32 years until she finally sought therapy.
The rest of the story is a testimonial to human triumph over adversity, as Cathy "took back what was stolen from me" by competing in the National Senior Games. Cathy reveals how she considers the water to be the medicine that has restored her health and her sense of well being.
NSGA thanks Cathy for having the courage to speak openly about her sexual abuse even before this issue exploded with last year's #MeToo movement. She hopes sharing it with us helps others to find their "healing waters" too.
2019 Venue Spotlight: Albuquerque Convention Center
All roads lead to the Albuquerque Convention Center (ACC) for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana. This is the hub of activity, where all athletes must check in to pick up their registration packet and credential. The Village Health and Wellness Expo will be loaded with great exhibits, culture, entertainment, merchandise and health screenings. The ACC will also be the host venue for competitions in Volleyball, Badminton, Shuffleboard and Table Tennis.
The convention center, which has 167,000 square feet of exhibit space, is centrally located in downtown Albuquerque. Ample underground parking and access is available immediately adjacent to the ACC. Almost every 2019 sports venue is 20 minutes or less commute from the facility.
2019 Host City Features Many Cultural Offerings
Albuquerque is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country. Its ethnic tapestry is reflected in its architecture, art, cultural centers and cuisine. Countless customs and traditions that have been passed down over generations are a vibrant part of daily life in the city, making Albuquerque an epicenter of authentic Southwestern culture.
The past seamlessly weaves through the fabric of present-day Albuquerque and is reflected in everything from the city's quaint shops and Pueblo- and Spanish-inspired architecture to our world-famous cuisine, music and art - making it a truly culturally rich American destination.
In addition to the Native American, Hispanic, Latino and Anglo cultures for which New Mexico is well known, more than 70 different ethnicities call Albuquerque home. Many of these cultures have centers and institutions dedicated to the study, advancement and presentation of their particular heritage, arts and humanities. These include but are not limited to the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, National Institute of Flamenco, African-American Performing Arts Center, and Chinese Culture Center.
2018 Qualifying Games Schedule is Heating Up!
Where will you qualify for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana? Will you compete in more than one state to stay tuned up and socialize as many do?
The time to research and set your schedule is NOW. Games opening in April include AL, CT, LA, MS, VT, and Canada. May will see action start in Washington, D.C., IN, MD, SC and VA. Some state games have events spread over multiple weekends, so go to the State Information page at NSGA.com and click on the state(s) you are interested in to find dates, sports, website and contacts. NSGA updates any new information as soon as it becomes available.
March Athlete of the Month
"Super Hero" Still Practices What She Teaches
Darcy McBride has more than 6,000 blessings to count.
The Nebraska native retired from a 28-year physical education career in York public schools eight years ago, but until last year she continued to practice her passion - training youngsters how to swim. Last year, when she finally stepped away from the program she initiated in 1984, the town threw a party to honor her as a "Super Hero" for teaching more than 6,000 elementary students how to swim over the years. Along the way, her husband and son also pitched in to help.
An avid swimmer since the age of ten - she quips "I was a late starter" - Darcy says she found a swim team at her YMCA and caught the competition bug. "I didn't swim for my high school or college since it was before Title IX and it was not available." When she began her career at York Elementary, she credits her principal's support, and approval by the city to use its public recreation center pool, for allowing her to teach her 4th and 5th grade students how to swim. Before long, she organized a swim team for the youth. "I had the idea, but they gave the support to make things happen," she says.
"I truly believe that if you have a skill or talent you should share it with others, and that's what I did. All children should know how to swim, and I wanted them to be safe and happy and enjoy the water."
Darcy revived her own competitive flame at 37, swimming in the all-ages Cornhusker Games each year, then diving into state Senior Games in Nebraska and South Dakota when she reached 50. Her first National Senior Games appearance came in 2005 in Pittsburgh. "I got two 4th place ribbons there, but that just made me want to win a medal. I've worked on my starts and turns to take my game to the next level. There's no senior team here in York, so I had to swim and train on my own."
Since then, she collected several more 4th place national ribbons, and her patience and persistence were finally rewarded when Darcy earned a bronze medal in her 200-backstroke event at the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Birmingham. Reaching the goal only spawned another. "To be able to get that medal was exciting to me, but now I want more!"
In typical teacher fashion, the Cornhusker got her husband into the act too. "First, I just wanted to get him in the pool for his health, but after traveling with me to a couple of these events, he said he was tired of being a towel holder and wanted to give it a try."
So, how do her former students feel about seeing their teacher still racing laps at the age of 66? "I've gotten amazing support from them, and their families too. I did all of this as a volunteer, and when you do that you get incredible help from others." One example was a phone call last September from a student who is now in her late 20s. "She told me she had started doing triathlons and that I was in her head when things got tough in her first race. That just meant the world to me."
Darcy likes continuing to be a role model. "Age is a factor, but it's not a barrier. It doesn't keep you from doing things."
We're always looking for great athlete stories! Submit yours, or nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you. Click here for the submission form.
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Senior Health and Wellness
Know Your Health Numbers to Achieve Your Personal Best
To maintain heart health and to optimize your performance in the Games, you need to know that your key biometrics (health numbers) are in the normal to ideal range.
Experts at the American Heart Association's My Healthy Lifestyle program note that for active senior living "it is imperative to normalize your critical health numbers, including weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol. Evidence shows that a 50-year-old with ideal cardiovascular health has substantially lower lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease and markedly longer survival."
Thus, it is reasonable to believe that it is advantageous to have ideal numbers for optimal sport performance. Knowing and Optimizing your key health numbers are the best way to keep you in the Games longer.
Unfortunately, several surveys have shown that very few American adults have ideal cardiovascular health, perhaps as few as one percent of the population. The good news is Senior Games participants are physically active and have already adopted healthy lifestyle that prevent or delay the onset of many chronic diseases.
Biometrics are typically available when you complete your annual wellness check. This is especially true for Medicare participants. Medicare covers a one-time preventive visit within the first 12 months that you have Medicare Part B insurance. If you have had Medicare Part B for longer than one year, you can get a yearly "Wellness" visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan based on your current health and risk factors.
Visit with your health care provider to get up-to-date on important screenings and shots and talk with your doctor about your family history and confirm that your key biometrics are optimal. Consider it one key part of an overall training program.
The expression "Your health is your wealth" is certainly true. Good health is the foundation for pursuing your personal best. So, act now to schedule a wellness check, and take the first step to lay a solid foundation for your most successful Games yet.
-Andrew M. Walker MPH, NSGA Director of Health & Wellness