The Long Run - May 2018
New Business Manager Joins NSGA
NSGA is pleased to welcome Gary Gryncewicz as our new full-time Business Manager.
Gryncewicz brings more than 30 years of financial management experience with privately held companies, performing in key leadership roles for the past two decades. "We selected Gary because he has demonstrated capabilities as an organizer, strategic planner, decision-maker, and problem solver," NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker said. "He leads by commitment and example and will be a valued addition to our team."
An accounting graduate of the University of South Florida, Gryncewicz has managed all aspects of business operations in both manufacturing and distribution, working with companies including Ciba Vision, Sarah Coventry, Intracom USA, and GEC Marconi Avionics. He was most recently chief financial officer for Perma-Liner Industries of Clearwater, Florida.
"At this point in my career, I wanted to move from the corporate to the nonprofit business world," Gryncewicz said. "As a senior myself, I strongly identified with the wellness mission of NSGA, and I'm excited to have this opportunity to bring my experience to the association."
2019 Venue Spotlight: Pickleball
Pickleball players will be treated like royalty when they compete at the new Manzano Mesa Pickleball Courts, located 15 minutes east of the Albuquerque Convention Center hub of activity.
The complex, just completed in May of last year, is the result of the city's ongoing desire to meet the recreational needs of their citizens, and also to attract events like the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana. It features 18 pickleball courts complete with perimeter and internal fencing and gates, nets, posts, trash receptacles, and player benches with shade structures. Concrete "alleys" were designed for player and spectator circulation and maintenance access. Low-rise bleachers, with shade canopies, are situated between six feature courts. Night play is made possible with ample LED lighting.
Albuquerque City Councilor Don Harris says the complex has been a big hit. "What I've heard from all the pickleball players here who travel all over to find nice facilities, is that this facility is as good or better than any facility they've ever seen, and that's just amazing. That's a tribute to Albuquerque and all the great things that we do," Councilor Harris said.
"How to Qualify" Web Page Provides Fast Links
Our website has always had the information athletes need to find qualifying Games and rules governing our sports. However, some have asked if there could be a single page people can be directed to that describes the basics and provides fast links to rules and game information. We're listening, and there is now a "How to Qualify" page that will help people learn how and where to qualify for the National Senior Games. If you have friends interested in participating, share the link below with them to get started!
Start Lining Up For Power Walk!
A reminder that Power Walk has been added as a new medal sport for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana! For the debut of the sport, athletes will be required only to register to compete in the 1500 meter and 5000 meter Power Walk events. The Games Committee wanted to add the sport quickly, but recognized that many of our Member Games would not have time to add the sport to their 2018 qualifying games. Qualifying for Power Walk will be required for 2021 and beyond. Start steppin'!
Upcoming Qualifying Games
NOW is the time to research and make plans to earn your place to compete in Albuquerque next year. We are now reaching the peak of qualifying action over the summer. Register now for Games starting in June, including MO, MT, NY, OR, TN and WV. July will see kickoffs in ND, PA and WA, and there are multiple states with continuing action in various sports over this time. The State Information page at NSGA.com has dates, sports, website links and contacts.
Albuquerque's Cuisine Starts with Red and Green
Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay recently named New Mexico as the hottest food destination in America, naming Albuquerque as one of the state's most interesting food cities. One of the first things visitors want to explore when they come to Albuquerque is the city's one-of-a-kind cuisine.
For hundreds of years, chefs here have been blending traditional Native American foods-like blue corn and squash-with peppers, wheat flour, pork and other ingredients that the Spanish settlers brought with them from Europe and Mexico. The result is what we now know as New Mexican cuisine. Its defining ingredient? Chile, which comes in red and green two varieties. Today the smoke-kissed flavor of freshly roasted green chile and the earthy fruitiness of red chile are essential to our favorite dishes, such as breakfast burritos, stacked enchiladas and stuffed sopaipillas. You will quickly learn to answer the state's official question: "Red or green?" Say "Christmas" to try both (and sound like a local!), and don't be afraid to ask for the chile on the side.
For an authentic taste of Native American fare, head to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to sample frybread, posole, and other traditional Feast Day foods. Don't like spicy foods? The Albuquerque culinary scene is extremely eclectic, featuring everything from brick-oven pizzerias to pit-smoked barbecue joints, Vietnamese cafés and prime steakhouses. Other options include vegetarian, Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Chinese cuisine.
May Athlete of the Month
"Driving" Miss Peggy
When athletes travel to the National Senior Games, they usually fly if the drive is more than a day or two. Not Peggy Birkenbuel, 79, who has driven her car two out of three times to The Games from...wait for it... Fairbanks, Alaska.
"It takes me four days to get from Fairbanks to Dillon, Montana, where my boys live," she explains. "Then I set out to drive, and I sleep in my car. It took me almost a week total to get to Houston for The Games in 2011. It was fun, though. When I drove back, I did my first sky diving in Moab, Utah. That was the last thing on my 'Bucket List'!"
While the trip was a bit shorter to Minneapolis in 2015, and she was able to fly to Birmingham last year, it's always a challenge for the multi-sport competitor to pull together the resources to make the trip. She lives in a cabin with no running water, but says she gets along with the help of friends around her. "I tell people I live on Social Security and my good looks," she says with a laugh. "But I like to drive my own car. I don't want to rent a car and I have too many things to do while I'm at Nationals."
A native of Portland, Oregon, Peggy played sports in grade school and continued playing on company softball teams and other competitions while working for Boeing and the phone company in Seattle. At age 60, she obtained an education degree from Western Montana College in Dillon and found that Montana schools only wanted her to substitute. She applied for positions in Alaska and landed a job teaching 2nd and 3rd grade children in Crooked Creek, located in a remote western area of the state.
"It took five plane stops to get there," she recalls. "The school was a trailer, and I shared it with the teacher doing 4th grade. It was also a long way from where I could live, but I could cross country ski, and when the river froze I could go that way as a shortcut."
Peggy moved on to teach in Anchorage and then Fairbanks, where her senior sporting life took roots. She helped get the Alaska International Senior Games started in 2003 and continued to volunteer and play many of the sports they offered. She enters field events and horseshoes at National Senior Games, and scored enough ringers to earn bronze (2015) and silver (2017) in horseshoes. She says she can't count how many medals she has earned in state games, but she sees awards as a byproduct. "I do it to keep healthy. I'm movin' and goin' all the time. If something wasn't going on I'd be sitting around too much."
Through Alaska's harsh winters, Peggy finds ways to stay active, including volunteer work and going to the community pool for aqua exercise and swimming. "You also have to go up and down a lot of stairs because there aren't many elevators around here," she observes. She then adds, "People comment that doing sports keeps me out of the bars, but I don't go to them anyway."
This fall, Peggy plans to move back to Montana to be close to her sons. That means shorter drives, and she says motoring to Albuquerque for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana will have a dual purpose. "I have property in Taos, New Mexico. I won the lot in a contest at the 1964 World's Fair in Seattle," she says. "I've been down there three or four times to look at it. It was barren at first, next time it had some bushes, and now it's got beautiful big trees. It will be good to see it again."
We found out about Peggy because she submitted her story to NSGA! To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you, Please Click Here.
Senior Health and Wellness
Older Americans Month: Engage at Every Age
Across the country in May, people over 50, a rapidly growing population, are taking part in Older Americans Month (OAM) activities that promote wellness and social connection. In addition to participating in local and state Senior Games, many athletes are volunteering, mentoring, and learning, leading and engaging.
Older Americans Month recognizes older Americans and their contributions to our communities. Led by the Administration for Community Living's Administration on Aging, every May offers opportunities to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation's elders.
This year's OAM theme, "Engage at Every Age," emphasizes the importance of being active and involved, no matter what stage of life you are in. NSGA's message has always been that is never too late to participate in local or state Senior Games activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. (We call it "pursuing your Personal Best.")
Remaining socially engaged can improve the quality of life for older adults, both in personal interaction and in social media. Follow us on Facebook (National Senior Games), Twitter and Instagram (@seniorgames1) for Older Americans Month postings, and you can get involved by participating in the Selfie Challenge. Take a selfie (or have someone take your photo) showing how you are engaging and tweet it with the hashtag #OAM18.
-Andrew M. Walker MPH, NSGA Director of Health & Wellness
NSGA Online Merchandise Store
2019 Merchandise Is Here!
Official 2019 National Senior Games merchandise is now available in a variety of styles, colors and sizes. Check it out today by visiting The Official NSGA Store...