Personal Best: “I never want to grow up”
Our next Personal Best story of perseverance and inspiration is Oklahoma cyclist Simeon Gipson. Ten years ago he retired, overweight with severe diabetes and thinking his life was over. He fought his way out through lifestyle changes, including bike riding. When his son bought him a used racing bike, his horizon expanded.
Read our conversation with Simeon about his past and how his life has changed for the better, his 300-mile annual ride through the former Cherokee Nation, and how he has returned to his old school to help create a museum and benefit youth.
2021 Open Sports: Beach Volleyball
Beach Volleyball was played for the first time in the USA in the 1920’s. However, only in the last 10 years has the sport received worldwide recognition. Thanks to the collaboration of 217 National Federations and the enthusiasm of more than 50 million players, Beach Volleyball has become one of the most popular sports around the world.
The National Senior Games will host 2’s and 4’s Beach Volleyball competition in men’s and women’s age divisions for the first time in Greater Fort Lauderdale at the 2021 Nationals Senior Games presented by Humana. As a new open sport, qualifying is not required.
“Beach Volleyball was added to the list because of its popularity and the beautiful beaches in the Fort Lauderdale area,” says NSGA Director of Events and Programs Sue Hlavacek. “We hope to see our indoor players participating in the beach competition. The beach game is great for improving indoor skills. In the 2’s beach game, you touch the ball in every rally and you learn to read and anticipate much better.”
We look forward to seeing you on the beach in 2021!
NSGA Rule Book Explains Ways to Qualify
While most sports qualify athletes based on how they place in individual events, there are variations with some sports. These are detailed under each sport in the NSGA Rule Book, and below is a quick summary of ways to qualify for the 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
The qualifying period runs through December 31, 2020. An athlete may qualify for the National Senior Games in several ways which vary by sport. These include: Qualification by Place; Minimum Performance Standard (MPS); Qualifying Down; Reciprocal Qualification; Bonus Event Qualification, and Limited Event Qualification.
- Qualification by Place – Generally, top four event finishers in each age group qualify in most sports.
- MPS – An athlete can qualify by meeting the Minimum Performance Standard for the event in their gender/age division at a state/qualifying senior games.
An athlete participating at a state/qualifying senior games that allows out-of-state people to enter may also qualify through a process known as qualifying down.
- Reciprocal Qualification – automatically qualifies an athlete in a second event when they qualify in a similar event. This can apply in Power Walk, Race Walk, Road Race, and Cycling time trials and road races.
- Bonus Event Qualification applies to swimming. If an athlete qualifies in a swimming event that has shorter distances (same stroke) then the athlete also qualifies for the shorter distances as bonus events.
- Finally, if certain circumstances exist an athlete may qualify under the limited event criteria. Limited event qualification requires submission of a verification form and proof of performance.
- For a detailed description and examples of the different ways to qualify, please refer to Appendix A in the back of The NSGA Rule Book, linked below and located under the NATIONAL GAMES tab at NSGA.com.
Qualifying Games Update
As you know, many Qualifying Games are already open for registration, with some competitions planned for March and April. However, schedules in the near term may be impacted by the current COVID-19 situation. NSGA’s Member Games are independently organized and are communicating directly with their athletes with information on any changes in schedules.
Please use our link below for the State Information page with individual Games links and downloadable contact list and master calendar. Visit the individual Sport Pages for information and a link to the NSGA Rule Book to better prepare for competition.
March Athlete of the Month
This Team Doctor is On The Team
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 a company making volleyball wear called Bone Setters, and the team adopted the name when Boyd sponsored them. “The company went by the wayside, but the name stuck,” he says.
The team members have all played together more than 20 years, some for nearly 30. “For a lot of us, this is the only team we’ve played on,” observes team coach and co-founder Mike Mather. “Some of us met on the beach in my 20s, and I’m 54 now.”
Some have played back into their school years, but Boyd was a late bloomer. “I learned late, around 30,” he recalls. “All my guys started way before me because I was busy with medical school and residency. After that, I had more time to explore working out.”
Their stability and familiarity with each other provides a big advantage as the team to beat in qualifying play at Virginia Senior Games, and they captured a silver medal in their National Senior Games debut in 2017. The team just missed the podium with a fourth-place finish when they returned for The Games in Albuquerque last year.
However, the Bone Setters will tell you their real advantage is having a skilled orthopedist on the roster. “I’ve operated on every team member except one,” Boyd says with a mild chuckle. “ACL tears, Meniscus tears, and rotator cuff injuries are most common in the volleyball world. We just treat ‘em and get ‘em back playing on the team.”
Mike, who referees volleyball in Virginia high school play, has been tended to many times by the team doc, including having both hips replaced. “The first was done after the Games in Birmingham in 2017, and the other one went out before the 2019 Games,” he says. “I couldn’t even finish a match in qualifying. But Boyd put the other hip in, and three months later I was playing in Albuquerque!”
Beyond orthopedics, the team relies on Boyd’s counsel on overall fitness and health. “I don’t know how we would get by without him,” Mike says. We take every ache and pain to him and he keeps us going.”
In Mike’s case, he jokes Boyd has a selfish interest. “I’m the setter and he’s the hitter. If I’m not setting, he’s not hitting, so he definitely wants me out there.”
Boyd also helps his players understand how to adjust play as they age to help avoid injury. “When you’re young, you can pretty much do whatever you want, but once you get older you have to understand the cost to benefit ratio on taking risks,” Boyd explains. “You have to look at the long picture. I try to guide them in the right direction to where they still can play and be as competitive as possible, physically and mentally.”
The team is excited that the 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana has added Beach Volleyball to the schedule. “A lot of us will be thrilled to play that too,” Mike says. “We’ll just extend our trip to Fort Lauderdale and play one and then the other.”
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Senior Health and Wellness
Designing an Effective Training Program: Wisdom from a Master Coach
Roy T. Benson, MPE, CFI, is a legendary exercise scientist, distance-running coach and author of three books, including the widely-read Heart Rate Training. In a question and answer format with him, NSGA’s Andrew Walker obtains “coachly” pearls of wisdom gained from several decades of working with elite athletes, countless hours conducting clinics and camps, personal experience and a working knowledge of exercise physiology. You will find training tips improving your potential to qualify in 2020 for the 2021 National Senior Games.
Q. In addition to your specialty of heart rate monitoring, tell us about the 4 key components of a good training program.
A. The basic components are frequency, intensity, duration, and mode. Of those, I recommend controlling the intensity levels of all the different types of workouts that meet the goals of developing fitness.
Q. Regarding frequency of training, you say that beginners should exercise 3-4 times per week, and most competitive athletes train at least seven times a week. How does this correspond to athletes who are in the 50+ range?
A. First, basic fitness requires 3 to 5 workouts a week. When starting to get in shape, it is important to establish the pattern of hard work days preceded and followed by easy, recovery days. Those days can be complete days off from any practicing or easy days limiting effort to 65-70% max heartrate. So, the hard/easy pattern will automatically limit how many hard days, for anyone working at max frequency, to 4 days per week. An athlete following a 7-day cycle would then be limited to just 3 hard days the following week. For senior athletes, a 4- to 6-day pattern would be the better, safer approach.
Q. How about the other components of conditioning?
A. Intensity, duration and mode are used effectively to create an experimental approach to individual workouts. Thinking of workouts as simple experiments. The purpose of your workouts is to test your level of fitness. You want to see if you are improving on schedule as you work toward your goal of peak performance at your championship event.
Q. Intensity relates to how hard we train. With our 50+ athletes in mind, please expand on the “coachly” wisdom that people often train too hard and too early.
A. Controlling intensity by using percentages of your max HR is the safest way to create your own experiment. For “younger” folks at any age who are just starting out as “adult-onset-athletes” with fresh legs and bodies, training during the appropriate phase of intensities up to 90-95% is probably safe. For veteran competitors and those in the upper age brackets, 85% efforts on hard days would be effective enough for a low-risk approach to training. Conventional wisdom says that racing is the best way to become fully conditioned to the agony, pain and exhaustion of all-out, 100% efforts. So, develop your mental toughness with frequent racing.
Q. What attribute is especially important to 50+ athletes attempting to qualify during the remainder of 2020 for the 2021 National Senior Games?
A. For an athlete to make it to the starting line from this point on the calendar, the most important attribute of training is consistency, i.e. not missing big periods of training due to injuries or illnesses. Training too often, or too long, or too hard usually results in peaking too soon, or worse, too much inconsistency. In short, over-work and under-recovery are bad traits that often result from irrational worry that one is not training hard enough.
Note: This article covers several core essential elements and attributes of designing a good training program. The next edition of the newsletter will include additional key components to progress your training.
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