The 2014 Personal Best Tour kicked off with a reception at The NSGA Annual Conference where 80 year old tennis player Ruby Rott (pronounced "wrote") of St. Paul was introduced to attendees who manage state Senior Games around the nation. An official presentation event for public and media will be held during the Minnesota Senior Games in August, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to give a sneak preview to our association members and local organizers for the upcoming 2015 National Senior Games Presented by Humana.
Shown above is (left to right) 2015 Local Organizing Committee Co-Chair Susan Loyd, Ruby Rott, NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker and Humana's Minneapolis representative Jan Mudd. Also in attendance was Pat Dahlman, Ruby's National Senior Games doubles partner since 2001.
Riker set the stage with an overview of NSGA's Personal Best health and wellness outreach that presents senior athletes as best examples of healthy active aging. He then shared Ruby's story of taking up tennis at the age of 55 with absolutely no previous sport background, having grown up in a farm community in North Dakota where sports were virtually nonexistent in her tiny school. "Like many, Ruby then got busy with work, marriage and family," Riker said. "She was a sports fan but lived through her daughter's athletics until she graduated from college. After that, Ruby got bored with working out to fitness tapes and decided to take that first step by visiting a local tennis center. It changed her life."
Ruby, who initially felt she was not worthy of the recognition, commanded the rapt attention of the audience with stories and heartfelt thoughts about her experiences and the health benefits gained from tennis and Senior Games. She also read excerpts from Silent Impact, a newly released book of inspirational stories written by local TV KSTP Sports Director Joe Scmitt that amplified her thoughts about being an influence on others.
The soft spoken athlete brought the room to complete silence with a story that we were completely unaware about. Ruby spoke of having lost track of Marion Murphy, her first National Senior Games doubles partner. Sadly, she read about Marion's passing earlier this year and reached out to her daughter, who is also an active tennis player with another local club. Then, in an odd coincidence, Ruby showed up for a tennis match a few days before our presentation and discovered that her randomly selected opponent was none other than Marion's daughter! "When I saw Mary Ellen out there all I could see was Marion," she said, holding back tears. Recovering, she then announced "At least I can tell you I won the match!"
Our thanks to Susan Loyd, herself an elite senior athlete, who shared her thoughts about motivation and fitness, and to Jan Mudd, a cyclist who, like other past Humana guest presenters, maintains a vigorous fitness routine.
Ruby closed with a statement that was met with a standing ovation. "I hope people will perceive me not just as a senior athlete but as a good caring person." The statement was self- evident. If you haven't read her profile on the Personal Best page, give yourself a gift by doing so and then passing it on to someone who can use a little inspiration to get moving.