2022 Personal Best: Swimming’s Spiritual Warrior
No one tells the story of Senior Games better than our athletes. Since 2013 NSGA’s Personal Best initiative has profiled selected athletes whose interviews represent the positive attitude, perseverance through challenges and goal-oriented outlook that produces a healthy and active lifestyle. We believe this journey represents one’s true Personal Best.
We kick off the class of 2022 with Herman Kelly, a swimmer who is on a mission to teach underserved youth how to swim. Herman shares his own history about growing up during segregation when African Americans were not allowed access to public pools, and how his journey has led him to now be a preacher, a university teacher and a senior athlete swimming in the National Senior Games. Enjoy!
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Early Registration Discount Ends January 26th
The 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana is only four months away! NSGA wants to remind our athletes that the early discount registration deadline is Wednesday, January 26, 2022, so take advantage of the savings and get on the roster!
Registration will continue until March 1, 2022. The one-time open registration period will also continue until that date. This means that anyone age 50+ as of December 31, 2021 is eligible to register. As a reminder, the maximum number of registrants will be limited for certain sports and could reach capacity at any point during the registration process, so sign up soon. NSGA is unable to guarantee entry into sports/events that reach registration capacity. Make sure you complete your travel and hotel plans when you register to get better choices close to your competition venue.
Get in, go get a medal and help your state earn the NSG CUP Presented by KOHLER Walk-in Bath. The Cup will go to the state with the highest percentage of medals to the number of their athletes!
HELPFUL REGISTRATION LINKS
- Competition Schedules Page with Age Specific Schedule (which provides dates for most events and age groups) as well as Golf Course Assignments, Racquetball Schedule, Track & Field Schedule and Swimming Order of Events.
- NSGA Registration Webpage for registration dates, entry fees and deadlines.
- NSGA Hotels and Lodging Page – find guaranteed low-price rooms. Please be advised that once the NSGA Group Contracted inventory (NSGA Rates) is sold out, J Team Management and NSGA has no control of the best available rates being offered by the hotels.
Qualifying Begins for 2023 Games in Pittsburgh
2022 finds us in the unusual situation of having some qualifying games for 2023 held while athletes are also training to prepare for national competition this May in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Please keep in mind that we are returning to our traditional cycle and athletes will need to qualify this year at one of our 52 Member Games to register and compete in the National Senior Games coming to Pittsburgh in mid-2023.
The State Information page at NSGA.com is where you will find a calendar and contacts for our Member Games. Some states host games earlier in the year, while many others are still finalizing their plans for later this year. NSGA updates the page as soon as we receive the information from the state organization, so if the state you are interested in does not have specifics yet, please check back. See you in Pittsburgh!
Save the Date: Flame Arrival Ceremony Set for May 11th
We promised you beaches, and our very first gathering will put you there! Get ready to kick off “A Reunion For the Ages” with the 2022 Flame Arrival Ceremony to be held Wednesday, May 11 at Los Olas Oceanside Park (LOOP). The LOOP is a recent $78 million park upgrade that created a space for public events, and it’s the perfect outdoor setting for athletes to meet and celebrate the return of National Senior Games.
Watch for more details about the planned festivities as we carry the torch into Greater Fort Lauderdale!
2022 Venue Spotlight: Swimming
The Plantation Aquatics Complex has two Olympic size pools, each 50 meters by 25 yards and a Colorado Timing System used for competition. The facility regularly hosts competitive swim and dive meets and is home to the Plantation Swim and Dive Teams. Inside the main building you will find locker rooms with daily use lockers and showers. On deck, the Plantation Aquatic Complex features numerous shade tents, seating and two bathhouses.
The competition pool has been completely renovated using Myrtha materials and technology. The Plantation Aquatics Complex is also protected by a lightning prediction and warning system. It’s the perfect Florida swimming venue for the 2022 National Senior Games!
Nature Parks Offer a Wonderland for Visitors
Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to an impressive variety of flora and fauna. Explore this beautiful tropical paradise through its nature parks and discover the impressive ecosystem.
Greater Fort Lauderdale is the gateway to the Everglades, where wild beauty makes up almost two-thirds of the destination’s total area. Take an airboat ride and witness exotic flora, fauna, and wildlife from alligators to Florida panthers.
Take a guided kayaking tour at beautiful beachfront state parks. Choose among daytime ecotours, sunset tours, or full moon tours at Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach or Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale. The full moon tours include glowsticks and end on a sweet note with s’mores around a campfire.
For another perfect family outing, visit Secret Woods Nature Center, designated the first “urban wilderness area” in Florida in 1978. This Dania Beach park features nature trails, a boardwalk trail, a butterfly garden, and a nature exhibit hall.
Rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard at West Lake Park in Florida’s Hollywood and paddle your way through winding mangrove-lined trails. Be on the lookout for osprey, vultures, crabs, turtles and ibis. If you paddle over to the connecting Anne Kolb Nature Center, you can visit the nature center or walk on beautiful boardwalk trails.
Heading out west, venture into Tree Tops Park in Davie for winding nature trails and horseback riding. Climb up into the canopy of a 28-foot-tall observation tower and check out a bird’s eye view of the lush scenery. Ride horses in this oasis of ancient live oaks, tropical hammocks and wetlands.
January Athlete of the Month
“Wrong Foot Ricky” has a Penchant for Perfection
Rick Parschen, 69, Strongsville, Ohio
A 300 game is the dream of all bowlers, and most never achieve it. Rick Parschen has hit the mark many times, including posting a 300 score while raking in medals in each of his three appearances in National Senior Games since 2015. Just how many does he have?
“As of last Thursday, I have 147,” he says almost incredulously.
The soft-spoken retired music teacher also has 96 800 series scores on his resume, plus a slew of 299 scores strewn along the way during four-plus decades of rolling the rock. Rick bowled intramurals in high school and made his college team at (where else?) Bowling Green State University. He says it took him two years to bowl 200, and four and a half years after he graduated before he chalked up his first 300 in 1979. The numbers are jaw-dropping, but Rick took it to another level after he seriously injured the gluteus medius muscle in his left leg two years ago. Unable to deliver the ball using his normal form, Rick was undaunted and learned to bowl off the opposite foot during rehab. How has that gone?
“Since February of last year, I have bowled four 300 games plus two 299 games off the wrong foot,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “That earned me the nickname Wrong Foot Ricky.” Rick has since made progress and recently returned to his normal bowling form. “I hope it lasts, but at least I have an option to go back to.”
With this talent, a pro career might have been an option for Rick, who played in some pro-am tournaments coming up but decided not to go for it. “I considered the rigors of the tour- you eat, you sleep, you bowl, that’s how it is,” he explains. “I kept my career as a high school music teacher and band director for 35 years. I felt I would have a more rewarding career to have an influence on these young lives, and it’s been an enjoyable experience.” Rick is currently in three leagues and coaches the bowling team at Padua Franciscan High School, the same school he graduated from.
Rick has competed in the US Bowling Congress since 1980 and discovered National Senior Games when they came to nearby Cleveland in 2013. He has even brought along his clarinet and played the National Anthem before competition each time. “It’s been a very uplifting experience. I’ve made great friends since 2013, many I never would have met elsewhere, and it’s like a reunion to see them again every two years.”
Now for the big question: How does Rick Parschen deal with the pressure as he is approaching a perfect score? “It has to be done one frame at a time,” he emphasizes. “Every frame is one step on the ladder, and you only look at the step in front of you and make sure to do the right things. If you look too far ahead and forget the step you’re on, you’ll miss it and fall on your chin.
“I remain as focused as I can and approach every game as if it’s the first time,” he continues. “I go through all the physical and mental motions to give myself the best chance, and if I execute I have a better than 50-50 shot it will be a strike.”
Rick is quick to add it is not automatic. “I tell people is there’s no entitlement in bowling. I’ve thrown good balls and got tapped and thrown lousy balls that turned into strikes. I just thank God for ones I get and work harder for the ones I don’t get. I’m humbled to have been given a great gift and avenues beyond my wildest dreams on how to go about it.”
What’s YOUR story? To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete, Please Click Here.
Ageility Gets Into the Game, Sponsors New Athlete
Our great partner Ageility wants to have a real stake in the game, so they have sponsored 78-year-old Hugh “Mac” McCaffrey of Deer Creek, Florida to train with their experts and compete for the first time in May at the National Senior Games in power walking. They are documenting his journey on a special web page and will add regular video updates on his progress.
Watch for “Mondays with Mac” updates on NSGA’s Facebook and Instagram every other Monday, with the next one on January 24. Follow along and cheer Mac to the finish line!
Health and Well-Being
Play Safer – Take the SAFE Exam at the 2022 Games!
By now most of you have heard of the Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE), a fitness exam consistently offered for free over the past 5 Senior Games thanks to a partnership between the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) and APTA Geriatrics, an Academy of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Physical therapist Dr. Becca Jordre created SAFE and has been coordinating this service since 2011. The information she has collected on past athletes allows SAFE participants to see how they compare to other NSGA athletes of their age and gender. The program is designed to identify factors in older athletes in the areas of cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility and balance. Most athletes learn something new from the SAFE that can help reduce their risk of injury and enhance their sport performance.
An important skill among the best senior athletes is the ability to sense and feel how one’s body is doing as they train. The SAFE screening gives you specific and objective feedback on factors that will help any athlete improve their game. Moreover, this information helps NSGA’s Health and Well-being program provide resources in support of athlete performance and sustainability.
This May in Fort Lauderdale, the SAFE will be scheduled by appointment in an effort to serve as many athletes as possible. Although the program has screened a large number of athletes since 2015, it is the goal of NSGA to spread the benefits of SAFE to groups of Senior Game athletes who have not previously been engaged in past assessment offerings. Making this feature available now will contribute to increasing the overall number and the diversity of participants.
Walk-ins will be accepted but signing up in advance is encouraged to avoid a wait. Signing up is easy and can be done at https://tinyurl.com/NSGASAFE If you have difficulty, you can contact Dr. Jordre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 605-658-6370. In the meantime, please contact your local physical therapist if you think you would benefit from a fitness assessment. Stay tuned for more information on the SAFE in future newsletters.
This article was prepared by Andrew Walker, MPH, NSGA Health and Well-being Director
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