2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana Daily News

10 minutes reading time (2048 words)

Games Daily News - June 16, 2019

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In this Edition:

For Chris Mizner, Archery is a Team Sport

Archery is an individual sport. The equipment, form, and every shot is reliant upon the archer. But after decades of participation, 63-year old Christopher Mizner of Maine considers it to be a team sport.

“A lot of shooters that are here that I’ve helped, and they’ve helped me,” says Christopher.

“You learn something from everybody.”

The 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana is the first he has attended, though he has been shooting in the Maine Senior Games for years. He was able to make the trip this year due to the “A Hand Up from Humana” scholarship that sends athletes to the Games. Maine Senior Games Coordinator Jo Dill nominated him for the scholarship.

“He’s just a really nice guy. He helps everyone,” explains Jo. “He runs a mechanic shop that hires kids who might be in trouble and helps them out. I can’t say enough about him.”

For Chris the year leading up to the Games hasn’t been easy. His wife and son passed within the last year.

“I try to focus on what I need to do and keep them in my mind,” Chris says.

Even fellow archers and friends also recognize the companionship between Chris and those who shoot with him.

“Chris is like everybody’s coach,” Jo continues. “He helps everybody. During one of the breaks he had his arrow spinner and he tested everybody’s arrows to make sure they hadn’t warped during shooting.”

Back in Maine, Chris volunteers his time at Lakeside Archery of North Yarmouth with youth shooters, as well as doing private lessons outside running an auto shop and his practice time.

Chris spent much of his time preparing for the Games, and if he couldn’t shoot outside, he went inside for close-range shooting. ”It’s a culmination of months and months of training,” he observes.

Story and photo by Gabrielle Hockstra-Johnson


Power Walk Debuts for Medal Competition at The Games

There is a new event in the lineup at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana: power walking. In fact, the partnership of the US Power Walking Association and NSGA represents the first-ever formally-sanctioned national competition for the sport.

Power is very similar to Olympic-style race walking but has less stringent rules. Power walking basically only requires that one must strike with the heel, and maintain one foot on the ground at all times. Both are monitored events, meaning that racers can be disqualified during the event if they if they break from the technical requirements.

Athletes have the option to race in a 1500M or 5K power walk distances at The Games, and many participate in both races. 2019 is a unique year as the initial power walk competitions are classified as “open events,” meaning no prior qualification is required.

Patricia Winiecki, who hails from Los Angeles, CA, competed in the 1500M race for the 65-69 year-olds, told The Games Daily that she felt fantastic after having finished the race. This is Pat’s first time at the National Senior Games and she notes that her role in Katherine Switzer’s 261 Fearless Team was what brought her here.

“I’d recommend it to anyone that can get out there,” she says, then exclaiming, “Come join us! It was so much fun. It’s a long road getting here, and everyone who even gets here should celebrate and we did that. We were a sisterhood out there. We made friends right on the starting line,” she says with a smile..  

Another athlete, Michiel Bourdrez, 83, of Corrales, New Mexico enjoyed his first time competing in the National Senior Games and is taking home an 8th place ribbon. Bourdrez placed eighth in his race and contributed his success to plenty of training beforehand.

“I practiced a lot,” said Michael. “For a little over a year, twice a week, we would go out and practice.”

With a large initial number of enthusiastic competitors, it’s apparent that athletes are quickly becoming fans of the sport. However, the event will have qualification criteria for participation at the next National Senior Games. Better start training now!

Story by Tim Harris


Athletes Show Creativity, Humor with Team Names

What’s in a name? When it comes to team sports, it can represent attitude, confidence, or where the team is from. Many are humorous, often playing on the theme of aging. We always get a chuckle when the lists come out, so here are some editor’s choices for best 2019 team names.

In softball, the W70+ NM Dream Catchers represent their home state culture, while Wisconsin’s M50+ Racine Antique Roadshow celebrate their location and senior attitude. Florida’s W50+ Kryptonite 50 warns super competition they have their number. Our favorite? A W50+ team from Maryland captures their attitude and home state calling themselves Crabby Pitches. Home run.

Turning to volleyball, the best men’s team name is the 50+ Old, Wounded and Dangerous. The W50+ group has two sport-themed winners with All About That Ace and Been There Dug That (also a W55+ team), and another in their bracket jokes they are STRAIGHT OUTTA BREATH. The W55 Bad Knees Bears 55's acknowledge their aches and bumps. One W60+ team touts their Net Assets, and our biggest laugh for volleyball names is really McFunnyAlbuquerque’s own W60+ claims Over One Million Serves. Hopefully they won’t have to play ketchup.

Finally, there’s a treasure trove of fun team names in basketball. Three age division teams from California confess they are Old Beaches. If three W55 hoop teams went out after their games together, they would tell a story: Where are we Going After This, Let's Do Shots, and Unusual Suspects. Party sensibly, ladies!

The men have some 3-point worthy names as well. There’s a M60+ team that pokes fun at themselves as the Half Fast Old Men, and two teams made up primarily of players from our smallest state warn opponents they are Rhode Kill. But we have a hands-down favorite in this basket, the M80+ team that amazingly features three brothers named Twomey and cleverly call themselves Pass it 2 Me. Well played, gentlemen!

 Story by Del Moon

‘Great Awakening’ inspires Cheryl Cherry’s healthy lifestyle

Earlier last year, Cheryl Cherry 70, challenged herself to trade in her wheelchair for a road bicycle after experiencing a horrific cycling accident. Her fearless attitude continues to inspire herself and others after winning the gold medal in the 5K cycling time trials competition at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Albuquerque, N.M.

“The first thing on my mind was that I can come back and I can still do this,” Cheryl says. “But as time went on, I had to realize what it would be like to not be active again.”

The former Miss Tampa of 1968 has endured several challenges throughout her life, including a painful battle with breast cancer. 

In her 30’s, Cheryl took up distance running and masters track but a knee replacement surgery unfortunately ended her participation as well as hindered her healthy lifestyle.

At age 43, she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Overcoming her radical mastectomy was not easy but her strong spirit and positive thinking helped her to make a full recovery and she has remained cancer-free.

In 2011, Cheryl had what she calls “The Great Awakening,” transitioning into the fit and healthy woman she is today. Making the move from a standard spin bike to road cycling she gradually became the representation of healthy living she aspired to be again.

She entered her first-time trial in 2013 at the National Senior Games where she and husband Tom, a former physical education teacher and football coach, both competed. Since their debut race, the couple has continued training and pushing each other to be the best they can be.

“I believe that this is my purpose now, to inspire myself and to inspire others,” Cheryl says.

About six months after her accident, Cheryl discovered that something was missing. The feeling of crossing the finish line was something that she realized she wanted to be able to do again. Overcoming a horrifying accident, not even displacing her humerus and breaking her pelvis could keep her away from competing at The Games.  

“Just by taking that first step, I was able to get where I am today. I never thought I could do it but here I am,” Cheryl says.  

Story and photo by Hayley Estrada


Traveling With the Pickleball Lovebirds

The year 2013 is a remarkable, life changing moment in Jo Honeycutt’s life. That year she began playing pickleball and was introduced to her husband, Larry Honeycutt. Since the beginning of their friendship, and to this day, the couple competes internationally in their favorite sport.

“We travel to a lot of tournaments, about two a month,” Jo says with a wide smile. “As long as we enjoy it, we will do it. We’ve met a lot of friends playing pickleball.”

Pickleball is an important part in Jo and Larry’s life, as they usually play five times a week at the recreational center in their neighborhood and have competed in various states. They’ve also traveled to Belize, Cancun and the Dominican Republic.

When they met, Larry says he made sure to teach Jo how to play and smiles with pride when he mentions that his wife has surpassed his skill level.

“I kinda stalked her till she married me,” Larry admits with a chuckle. Jo recalls moments when Larry would visit her at her office to show her pickleball videos and one time presented her with her first paddle. She laughs when she mentions that Larry would claim he was on his way to visit his daughter when he stopped by her work place, even though his daughter lived nowhere in a close vicinity.  

After the two were wed, Larry signed a contract agreeing to play with his wife in the tournaments for one year. Now he has returned to his own age group and the couple only plays together recreationally. Larry says that at age 76, compared to Jo at 61, there is a difference in skill level.

Both agree that they love pickleball not only for the lifelong friendships they’ve created, but for the health benefits staying active provides. The National Senior Games checks all the boxes for them.

Larry says that after his first month of continuously playing pickleball, he began to feel much better and noticed an improvement in his hand and eye coordination.  

“It’s the key to longevity,” Jo says. “Eat right and keep active.”

Story and photo by Seairra Sheppard


Athletes Excited to Play, Visit Village, and Sample Local Fare

When athletes are not busy competing or checking out local offerings, they come to explore the Villa Ernesto Ramos: The Village Health and Wellness Expo located inside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

The Village, named after the founder of the New Mexico Senior Olympics 40 years ago and a key player in the formation National Senior Games, is filled with a variety of  activities for athletes to participate in. Perhaps the most popular was a Humana booth where athletes can get their picture placed on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Michigan swimmer Joanne Deys, 56, is a two-time participant at the National Senior Games who enjoys both the Village and the destination. Joanne loves the energy that Albuquerque is giving her and plans to explore the streets of Santa Fe, eating green chile cuisine, and traveling up the mountains on the Sandia Tramway. Joanne, who took a 20-year break from swimming, rekindled her love for the water four years ago.

Diana Eubanks, 56, also from Michigan, will be competing in softball in her first National Senior Games,  and she is so eager to see her elders still playing their beloved sport.

“I’m so happy to be able to participate and take on a new venture here in New Mexico,” said Eubanks. “I have never been here before, so I would like to try some authentic Mexican cuisine before I leave back home.”

Story and photo by Christina Fitzsimmons

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