Athlete of the Month
Each month, NSGA selects an interesting athlete to highlight from the vast diversity of people who participate in National Senior Games. These stories demonstrate the spirit of The Games and the benefits of fitness, fun and fellowship that athletes enjoy through their competitive efforts. Everyone has a story to share – what’s yours?
Click Here to submit your information, or nominate someone who inspires you!
Use the search box to find athletes by name or year of story.
Mary Kaplan, 81, Sunrise Beach, Texas When we say runner Mary Kaplan sets goals as big as Texas, we mean it literally. Now 81, the retired Air Force nurse has not only run a race in all 50 states, she has also achieved the goal to run a 5K in every Texas county. All 254
Andy Leighton, 73, Arlington, Virginia Andy Leighton has learned over the years that you don’t give anything away to your opponents – you make them earn everything. For the past decade, that outlook has been put to test, as he now has a second opponent to face every day: Parkinson’s Disease. “After the diagnosis, I
Joy Upshaw, 60, Walnut Creek, California It’s great to win a gold medal, and special when you achieve a record for the best performance in your age and event. But it’s extraordinary when your record surpasses a legend and personal inspiration, as Joy Upshaw experienced in 2019. Even though she was at the top of
Joe Moyer, 72, Columbus, Ohio When Joe Moyer looked forward to his fourth straight trip to the National Senior Games, all he was thinking about was getting in shape to make a good time in the Triathlon event in Albuquerque. One year later, he would marvel that he even made it to New Mexico at
Carol Hicks, 75, Blountville, Tennessee Carol Hicks has had, by her own estimation, a blessed life. Now 75, the East Tennessee native has raised a family with her husband of 57 years and enjoyed her work career, including more than a decade with Junior Achievement before retiring a couple years ago. She has also been
Philipp Djang, 65, Las Cruces, New Mexico The pandemic has disrupted all sports, but perhaps none as much as swimming. Cross training is a part of preparing for competition, but when there’s no pool, swimmers are literally fish out of water. We called Philipp Djang, one of the most decorated swimmers in National Senior Games
Ellen Jaffe Jones, 67, Sarasota, Florida While only a fraction of senior athletes follow a vegan diet, there is a trend with more turning to this option. Traditional opinions by coaches and athletes say that you can’t perform as well athletically on a purely plant-based diet, but runner Ellen Jaffe Jones is out to disprove
Dr. Boyd Haynes, 61, Newport News, Virginia Virginia’s Bone Setters 55+ Men’s Volleyball team has a not-so-secret weapon that their name gives away- they have an orthopedic surgeon on the team. Dr. Boyd Haynes has been playing with the same group of guys around Newport News since the mid-1990s. At the time he had started
Leonid Sukher, 70, Brighton, Massachusetts Leonid Sukher has enjoyed table tennis since childhood. Growing up relatively poor with no access to equipment, he and friends made paddles out of scrap plywood to play. Little did he know as a youth that getting serious about his game would help regain his health later in life. Born
Madonna Hanna, 66 Tacoma, Washington The Boomer Widow and the Olympic Hopeful Life challenges can sometimes cause people to give up on goals and dreams, but Madonna Hanna was determined to not let that happen when her husband Steven passed away in late 2018. A widow’s search for a new track coach led to an