Every year, the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) hosts an Annual Conference for its Member Games, partners, and vendors. With the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico next year, NSGA held the meetings there in late January to give the host city a chance to put its best foot forward to show what athletes can expect.
To use a sports phrase, they knocked it out of the park.
“We’ve received overwhelming positive feedback by our Members about the hospitality provided by our hosts, and for the information offered,” said NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker, noting that the 2018 conference had the largest attendance in many years.
Besides the three days of conference business, including the NSGA Annual Meeting, attendees also enjoyed two social events that gave them a taste of the unique heritage and culture of The Land of Enchantment. The welcome social, held at the Albuquerque Museum, featured a Mariachi band and a colorful dance performance by the Ballet Folklorio. On closing night, members toured the Pueblo Indian Culture Center, sampled authentic New Mexican cuisine, and enjoyed a dance and drum show and a soaring demonstration of native flute music.
The hosts also loaded members on buses to tour many of the sport venues and the Albuquerque Convention Center, giving games organizers plenty to take home to talk about with their athletes during this qualifying year. NSGA will be sharing spotlight stories on competition venues throughout the year in its monthly e-newsletter The Long Run.
Conference sessions featured technical assistance related to games planning and operations, but also to health and wellness topics that serve NSGA’s core mission to promote active lifestyles to all people 50 and over. Sessions highlights included:
- Power Walk overview – With Power Walk now added as a new medal sport for 2019, attendees were given information to encourage them to add it to their sport offerings at the state level if they don’t already have the event. NSGA is working Marianne and Doug Hamilton with the National Power Walk Association to establish competition rules.
- Hazel Tull-Leach, Executive Director for the Albuquerque host committee, provided an overview of sport venues and planning that has begun for the city to host the 2019 Games.
- National Travel Systems (NTS), NSGA’s housing and travel partner, provided an overview of their services, and showed how states can use the same services for greater efficiency and customer service.
- “Healthy and Ready to Play” was the theme for information shared by Andrew M. Walker, NSGA Health and Wellness Director, assisted by Dr. Becca Jordre (SAFE screenings program) and Irene Stillwell of Arizona Senior Olympics.
- “PR on a Budget: Tips and Best Practices” was offered by NSGA Director of Communications and Media Del Moon, assisted by Andrew Faber and Joanie Griffin of CliffDweller Digital of Albuquerque.
- Roundtable sessions and regional games coordinator meetings provided a forum to share ideas and discuss common issues.
The Awards Gala dinner, featuring entertainment by New Mexico senior athletes, announced winners of the annual NSGA Media Awards, which recognize best practices by members to promote their Games. The winners, decided by voting of the attending members, were:
- Website- Massachusetts Senior Games
- Medals- New Mexico Senior Olympics
- Specialty/T-Shirt- Maryland Senior Olympics
- Games Promotion Package ($50,000 and over) – New Mexico Senior Olympics
- Games Promotion Package ($49,999 and under) – Alaska International Senior Games
- Wellness Program- National Veterans Golden Age Games
The conference also featured a meeting of the NSGA Foundation trustees, and business concluded with the NSGA Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors, where membership heard reports about the organization’s activities and held board elections. Davis Cox of Massachusetts was elected to the board, as was Holly Schneider of Indiana who will serve as representative for the Great Lakes Region. Board members completing their service were thanked, including DeWayne Vaughn and DJ Mackovets (At Large), Juanita Forbes-Vanderhoeven (Louisiana) and Fritz Bukowski (Minnesota).
The board also approved a two-year provisional membership to allow Mexico to host two qualifying events for the National Senior Games: the National Senior Games Mexico will be held in Mexico City from April 27-29, and the International Senior Games of the Americas coming to Cancun November 28 through December 10. Both are open for any athlete to attend. This addition brings the number of NSGA Members to 54.
The emotional highlight of the week happened at the Gala dinner, where retiring VP of Association Relations Becky Wesley was given a slideshow tribute and a surprise appearance of her children and grandchildren, who traveled to Albuquerque from Louisiana and Oklahoma to help celebrate her transition. Earlier in the week, Wesley’s husband surprised her by showing up at a meeting of the board. “I was shocked to see Dale there, it honestly didn’t register at first,” Wesley recalled. “Then, to see the rest of my family was an incredible surprise. I will never forget the experience, and I want to thank you all for being such an important part of my journey!”
The 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana will be held June 14-25, 2019. Athletes must qualify at one of the Member Games during 2018 to compete in the national event.
The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) is a nonprofit Multi-Sports Council member of the United States Olympic Committee that promotes health and wellness for adults 50 and over through education, fitness and sport. NSGA governs the biennial National Senior Games, the largest multi-sport championship event in the world for seniors. NSGA is comprised of 54 Member Games across the country and in Canada who conduct competitions which serve as qualifying events for the National Senior Games. The 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico from June 14-25, 2019. For more information, please visit www.NSGA.com.