Florida Feature by Nick Gandy, Florida Senior Games
You don’t find too many folks like Jack Cason.
First of all, he was the only athlete entered in the 2022 National Senior Games, presented by Humana, Compound Release Archery event 90-94 age group Sunday at Miramar Regional Park.
He’s also a native Floridian, born in 1932, in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he still lives.
His home growing up in St. Petersburg was across the street from the schools he attended, which at the time, were all located around St. Petersburg High School. He simply walked across the street to school.
St. Peterburg High School, home of the Green Devils, was built in 1926 and was billed as the first million-dollar school in the U.S. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
He’s won gold medals in the last seven National Senior Games, dating back to the 2009 Games in the San Francisco area and five of those seven gold medal winning scores are among the National Senior Games Top 10. He set the 85-89 age group record at the 2017 Games, in Birmingham.
There he was on Saturday and Sunday, in the 90 degree heat, with 149 other archers, shooting at targets lined up on a football field. It’s an activity he picked up in 1971 at the age of 39.
“It’s a fun game,” he said. “It’s an individual sport, so you compete against yourself.”
In most tournaments, Jack is competing against himself since the competition thins out as athletes age into their 80s and 90s.
His two-day total of 1434 this year set the record in the 90-94 age group, topping the previous mark by 131 points.
In his hometown of St. Petersburg, during Jack’s younger years, it was once famous for the green benches that lined the streets of downtown. Folks around Jack’s current age would congregate on the benches and while away the hours while taking in the Florida sunshine.
The benches eventually went away and St. Petersburg now boasts a thriving downtown, full of coffee shops, craft beer breweries and art galleries.
“They got rid of those benches because the old folks spent too much time just sitting there and not spending any money in the stores,” he said. “So they all moved to Bradenton and Sarasota.”:
In his professional life, Cason worked with the St. Petersburg Fire Department for 20 years and was a Fire Lieutenant the last eight years of his career before he retired. He spent five years in the fire safety department at Yellowstone National Park, during summer months in a program for retirees.
If anyone could safely shoot an arrow to light an Olympic torch, like the one that opened the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, it would be Jack Cason. Because you just don’t find too many folks like him.
Other Florida gold medal winners at the 2022 National Senior Games Archery Compound Release event included Joe Heist, of DeLeon Springs, who shot a 1757 in the 55-59 age group. He had 67 “X shots (hitting the center ring), the third most of all archers and finished 78 points ahead of the silver medalist. Blair Peterson, of The Villages, won the 75-79 age group with a two-day total of 1696. Among the women archers, Kathryn Rocchio, of The Villages, won the gold medal in the 65-69 age group, with a score of 1604.