Fort Jackson near Columbia was already bustling with activity as it celebrated Armed Forces Day with an annual retiree weekend including a 5K run and health expo. The sprawling U.S. Army base is famed for its tradition of training, so the fitness message of NSGA’s Personal Best Tour fell right in line with the activities as we showcased Col. Jamie Houston, a career Army dentist who commands the “DENTAC” unit at Ft. Jackson. He also wields a mean tennis racquet.
In addition to the base commanding general, also on hand to honor Houston’s fitness commitment were members of the University of South Carolina Women’s Tennis Team, Carl Hust with the South Carolina Senior Games and Brent Minter, Humana’s South Carolina director.
To our knowledge, Houston may be the only active duty military person who will compete in Cleveland this July at the 2013 National Senior Games Presented by Humana. However, this distinction was not the main reason he was selected as a Personal Best athlete. NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker explained to the gathering that Houston, 59, is a relentless health and fitness advocate who saw that the tennis courts were not being used and that he didn’t have partners to practice with. “So Jamie put on his recruiting hat and started a Ft. Jackson tennis team, and they have been interacting with civilian teams and tournaments. Inspiring and getting others involved in fitness is part of what it means to be your personal best,” he said.
Here is a link to watch an excellent video report prepared by Ft. Jackson Public Affairs that is being shared throughout the military’s media communications network.
Following the award presentation, more than 25 tennis players took to the courts for spirited tennis demonstrations that included nationally ranked USC players Dominika Kanakova and Jaklin Alawi in doubles games against Houston and fellow senior athlete and dentist Perry Kocher. The men dominated the first game, but the ladies surged and won the best of three contest. Another highlight was 78 year old Skip Steele who once played legend Rod Laver and keeps up his volley despite spinal issues.
A humorous moment came when the base commander was challenged to return scorching serves from USC- Lancaster tennis player Dave Fosnacht, who has been clocked at 132 MPH on the radar gun. Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts, a former college running back with no tennis experience, donned a helmet and flak jacket in a tongue-in-cheek effort to protect himself. “After the first couple of serves the general actually got many of them back over the net,” said an impressed Houston. “I plan to talk to him about joining our team.”
Prior to our Ft. Jackson event, Riker and NSGA staffers Casey Cascio and Del Moon visited the South Carolina state games held at Francis Marion University in Florence where they found that the spirit of the senior games movement – and good ole Southern hospitality – is flourishing. A tip of the hat to the Palmetto State where some very dedicated folks stage a dozen local senior games in addition to the annual state classic we observed.
Jamie Houston captured the gold in his age group at the state games. Best of luck at Nationals Sir!