The Long Run - September 2019

Hurry - Last Chance to Vote for SportsTravel Award!

As reported last month, the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana has been nominated for the SportsTravel Award in the “Best Amateur Sports Event” category.

The deadline to vote is TOMORROW September 16th at the link below. If you have not voted yet, PLEASE take a moment to do so to help bring recognition for the Senior Games Movement. Thanks!

SportsTravel Award Ballot Page

Association News

NSGA "Conference Season" Connects with Sports Tourism Leaders

The fall is the time of year when leaders in sports, tourism and special events gather at large conferences to network and discuss business, such as interest by cities in hosting events like The National Senior Games. There is always creativity in exhibit areas, as shown in the photo below where NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker (left) and Director of Marketing and Sponsorships Kevin Houseknecht took the bait and were lured into the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s tropical themed space at the Connect Sports Conference in Louisville, which brought together the sports tourism industry’s top event organizers, national sports governing bodies, suppliers and industry experts. Shown with Marc and Kevin is Saskia Fisher, Senior Manager for Sports Business Development for the greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bereau.

Other industry gatherings NSGA annually attends is the TEAMS Conference (which presents the SportsTravel Awards) in November, and the Olympic and Paralympic Assembly which was held in Colorado Springs this past week. NSGA is one of 38 Multisport Organization Council members who gather for the advancement of sport. The big news this year is that the U.S. Olympic Committee has changed its name to the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to reflect its focus on athletes of all abilities. Read about the change here.

Game On!

2019 Games Contributes to Best Tourism Year in 4 Decades for ABQ Tourism is one of the pillars of the economy in New Mexico, with millions visiting The Land of Enchantment annually. We are pleased that the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana is one of the factors that has resulted in the best tourism year in four decades for the City of Albuquerque.

The good news was shared during Visit Albuquerque’s recent annual meeting. Lodging tax collections during its last fiscal year, which ended June 30, exceeded a record $14.4 million, 10.8% higher than the prior year. Occupancy rate at Albuquerque hotels rose by nearly 6% since the previous year. Albuquerque’s tourism industry grew faster than the national average, and faster than the average of ten of Albuquerque’s peer cities, according to Tania Armenta, president and CEO of Visit Albuquerque. Read more at the link below.

The Albuquerque Journal – Best Tourism for ABQ

2019 Streaming Video Archive Available for Viewing

We previously informed you that streaming video of 2019 track and field action is available to view on National Senior Game’s YouTube channel, but did you know you can also find both the Flame Arrival Ceremony and Celebration of Athletes events too?

You can find of this year’s live streaming events, plus our highlight and daily recap videos preserved online to be enjoyed now and in the future on The National Senior Games channel on YouTube.

National Senior Games YouTube Channel Home Page

The Bahamian Influence in Greater Fort Lauderdale As our hearts and support goes out to the people of the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, it’s notable that Greater Fort Lauderdale, host of the 2021 National Senior Games, has a significant cultural connection to the islands. Below, courtesy of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, is a great article by Kitty Oliver, who is a veteran journalist, academic, author, oral historian, singer and a Ph.D. in Comparative Studies focusing on race and ethnic communication. She is founder of the cross-cultural Race and Change Oral History Archive, the largest of its kind in size and scope, housed in Special Collections at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center located in Fort Lauderdale.

The feature celebrates the impact and influence of Bahamian culture on Broward County and the region. Enjoy learning more about the Caribbean flavor found in the host region for The Games in 2021.

Sampling Broward’s Bahamian Heritage

September Athlete of the Month

Nothing Keeps Alice Down 

Editor’s Note: NSGA is a partner in promoting National Falls Prevention Awareness Day each September. Our research on highly active older adults who compete in The Games reveals that they experience falls at one-third the rate of their age peers, and that a larger percentage recover from falls they do experience. Alice Walker is just such an example that puts a face on our results. Keep moving!

If you compare Alice Walker’s lifestyle and athletic accomplishments to her history of medical issues over eight decades, you would not believe she is the same person. A horrific accident left her with limited use of her left arm. Her kidney needed to be removed. Blood clots. Knee replacements. Chronic arthritis. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Yet, the 89-year-old South Carolina native has bowled twice a week since 1969. She has participated in Senior Games since her retirement in 1989, and it’s not unusual for her to compete in a dozen or more sports at the state level. Alice brought home two bronze medals from the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana in June as another testimony to her perseverance.

Alice Walker has also experienced two accidental falls in recent times, but unlike many lesser active peoples in their late 80s, she survived both and has carried on with her life. Both falls happened at home, with the first in 2018.

“I was getting dressed in my walk-in closet and slipped on something when I turned,” she recalls. “I had an awful time getting back up because of my shoulder injury and surgeries. The left side of my body was sore.” Alice deals with a damaged rotator cuff and burn injuries resulting from a 1989 work accident when she was a culinary arts instructor, which permanently weakened her left arm. She had the presence of mind to grab on to some hanging clothes to help break her fall.

The second fall happened just weeks before her trip to Albuquerque for the 2019 National Senior Games. “I was getting out of my bed, which is a little high up, and I started sliding when I put my feet down. My legs slid under the edge of the bed when I fell to the floor,” she says. “I called to my daughter to help but I couldn’t bear for her to touch my left side. She got on the computer and found out how I could roll and get up using pillows with my right arm, but I was on the floor for two hours.”

After receiving physical therapy, water aerobics and obtaining an alert device, Alice is back up and doing the things she enjoys, like winning medals in Senior Games. She says staying active both physically and mentally has given her the ability to overcome the falls and the other challenges she has been through. “Sometimes I hurt so badly,” she admits. “But I just keep going on and don’t let that hold me back. No pain, no gain, you know. Once I get into my games I forget about my aches and pains.”

Alice firmly believes that being involved in both sports and social activities with her children and church has kept her alert and in shape to handle what life has dealt her. “I’ve always been very active. I put my three children into sports to keep them busy, too,” she observes. Her lifelong example has inspired them to follow her lead to also compete in National Senior Games – this year, daughters Marlyne bowled, Wanda played badminton and pickleball, and Karen played shuffleboard. “I played with them all the time as they were growing up,” she says. “I’m very competitive and played to win, so I think they picked that up too.”

Alice has her sights set on qualifying in next year’s South Carolina Senior Sports Classic on her way to another national experience in Greater Fort Lauderdale in 2021. “I am here by the grace of God, and I will keep doing this as long as I can!”

More Athlete of the Month Stories in News Section at We want to hear more great stories! To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you, Please Click Here.

Senior Health and Wellness

Balance is Key to Sports Performance and Falls Prevention An American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) policy Position Stand on exercise and health states that neuromuscular training, in addition to cardiorespiratory, resistance and flexibility exercise, is essential for health maintenance. Balance training is a core element of neuromuscular training for health and is important for Senior Games sports performance. Good balance is required for competing at your best level and preventing falls, so it is important for senior athletes to include balance training in their routines. Although essential to participation in senior sports and for preventing falls, specific balance training is not often included in senior athlete training programs.

Lead researcher for the Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE), Dr. Becca Jordre, DPT, answers questions on balance training for the senior athlete: Q. As a physical therapist, can you tell us why balance training is important?
A. I like to remind my patients that balance isn’t something we get to keep if we’re not working on it. When we are kids we are in our prime and we take our sense of balance for granted. As we age, the cells that tell us where we are in space decline. Keeping our balance becomes a challenge and if you don’t specifically work on it, you will see a decline. In the general population I don’t see patients until they’ve already had a fall, and that is unfortunate. With SAFE we’ve been trying to pick up on balance issues early and alert athletes so that their balance doesn’t silently slip away from them. We know senior athletes maintain better balance and have far fewer falls than the general population, but balance isn’t something that we maintain without effort. Strength training, cardiovascular activity and staying active all help, but specifically training for balance is key to really keeping your fitness well-rounded. Q. There are many sports in the Senior Games, how does balance training enhance senior athlete sports performance and fall reduction?
A. Balance is a key element of many sports, but it is often overlooked. If you consider running, for example, you might think about the need to have strong legs and great cardiovascular fitness. Those are both key to great running, but running is also a sport that requires excellent single leg balance. While running, an athlete never has both feet on the ground. If their balance on one leg isn’t great they won’t be able to spend as much time in that single leg stance before having to put their other foot down. That can shorten their running stride, change their form and slow them down overall. Athletes with strong single leg balance will have an advantage. Q. With a variety of Senior Games sports in mind, what balance training activities would you recommend?
A. Prior to the 2019 National Senior Games I worked with a brilliant group of physical therapists to create a guide specifically for senior athletes. Take a deeper dive into balance activities with this link to Balance Training for Athletes Over 50.
This guide is more challenging than what we would give the typical older adult. We encourage athletes, first, to be safe in their balance practice. Make sure you’re not jumping into a balance routine that will cause you to fall. Starting with both feet down but in a narrow or tandem stance is a great first step. Once you are comfortable standing in a narrow stance you can work to a single leg stance. In any stance (both feet or just one) you can add dynamic movements. Simply turning your head side to side or swinging your arms can be a great challenge to your balance.

Find more balance-training tips for the general senior population at the Go4Life resource How to Prevent Falls and Improve Your Balance.

NSGA collaborates with the National Council of Aging (NCOA) to promote Falls Prevention Awareness Day the first day of fall, which is September 23 this year. Please join us in advocating for falls prevention among all seniors, encouraging your peers to take action and to reduce their risk of falls. You can find falls prevention resources at

Pictured above: SAFE guru Becca Jordre and 2014 Personal Best feature athlete Irma De Marzo practice balance.

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