Director’s Note: As we close the book on the 2022 National Senior Games, we thought it would be illuminating to ask our communications intern Jennifer Coco, 20, to share her thoughts from the experience. Jennifer was already aware of the Games and older athletes because her grandmother is 81-year-old Senior Games swimming icon DeEtte Sauer, who swept all her events with six Gold Medals this year. However, Jennifer’s direct experience working in the Media Center brought new insights. Enjoy!
When I was given the opportunity to intern at the 2022 National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be educational for my career, I would get to watch my grandma compete, and I would get to take a vacation.
After experiencing the National Senior Games from many levels, I can say it is not what I expected at all. The first day I was told to leave the office and find a story, so I chose volleyball, my favorite sport. Within ten minutes of watching the men and women compete I got emotional. These athletes are achieving what society tells them they cannot do. They are jumping, blocking, and even diving on the ground.
Over the next couple of days, I watched different sports like swimming, basketball, beach volleyball, tennis, track and field, and pickleball. While watching these sports I got to interact with the athletes. I met some amazing people with unbelievable stories. Every story that I heard amazed me because most of these people should not be competing, they should not have survived what they went through. But they did survive. They are defying the odds showing the world that aging does not have to prevent you from whatever you want to accomplish.
The National Senior Games transformed my perspective on aging. It made me reevaluate my thoughts on staying active and eating healthy, how important these factors are to aging. My grandma said, “I do not think people realize it is even harder to compete at 81 than at 18.” After watching the athletes compete, I would have to agree. This experience was absolutely life changing and I would love to attend the next National Senior Games next year in Pittsburgh!