2021 Personal Best Debuts With “Ambassador of Fitness”
The Personal Best health and wellness initiative enters our ninth year with inspiring stories about senior athletes who overcome obstacles, take on challenges and practice healthy aging to achieve their best quality of life – what NSGA calls your real “personal best.”
While we consider all senior athletes to be ambassadors, Georgia runner Vince Obsitnik is the only one who has really served as a U.S. Ambassador. What’s more unique is that he also ran a marathon in his country of birth while serving in that role.
In true ambassador style, Vince contacted us to share a message with his story about the importance of working through injuries and medical conditions, and he has been through plenty. Enjoy learning about Vince’s adventures in our first Personal Best feature of the year!
StepsToWELL-Being Virtual Challenge Starts TODAY!
It’s time to step into the National Senior Games StepsToWELL-Being Challenge, which starts today and runs through April 12!
As in previous challenges, participants record various types of physical activity (that the software converts to steps) with the goal of obtaining the highest number of average steps for you and your state Senior Games or partner organization team. It’s FREE and open to all, not just senior games athletes, and you can join in at any time and still contribute.
What’s new? For a motivational boost, try the Wellness Score feature to explore activities that accumulate wellness points. In addition, every Friday participants in the StepsToWELL-Being challenge are eligible to receive a complimentary swag item from the Louisiana Bureau of Minority Health Access and/or the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Previous Challenge Participants – No need to create a new profile on the virtual platform – just log in using your previous username and password at the link below.
New participants – Create a user profile and join your state team and/or participate as an individual at the link below. Fitness tracking devices (i.e., Fitbit, Google Fit) can also be synced to the program!
State Games’ Status Varies By State
We know our athletes are itching to get out and show their stuff on the playing field after this long interruption. Guess what? Your State Games organizers are just as anxious to see you too! Some have already set dates and a few are opening registration, while some others are still monitoring their situations to determine when they can move forward.
The State Information Page at NSGA.com is the most current resource for game status and contact information. Games dates and links are updated as soon as we receive notification, and each state will also communicate directly with their past participants. Let’s get back in The Games!
Where Will We Be in 2023? Get Hints in Social Media
Now that our 2022 Games are set, the next question for many athletes is “Where will we be in 2023?” We can now share that we have completed the bid and approval process and will be announcing the Host City for the 2023 National Senior Games on Wednesday, April 14. Good news!
Our lips are sealed until then, but follow (and Like!) us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the week before the big reveal on Wednesday, April 14 to get some trivia question hints!
March Athlete of the Month
“Whatever is hard for you to do, do it over and over”
Brenda Frelsi, 62, Glendive, Montana
When Brenda Frelsi tells you about hard knocks in her life, she means it literally.
Until she was 45, the Wyoming native had enjoyed a relatively normal and active life. Winter sports is her passion, and one day she was skiing with her 8-year-old daughter Sarah and they decided to race on densely packed snow that was icy in places. “I only remember that feeling of my skis being yanked off and the sound of my helmet hitting the ice,” she recalls. “I had only worn a helmet a few times, but it definitely saved my life.”
The impact caused damage and bleeding on her brain, along with memory lapses and loss of physical abilities, but she was not one to take it lying down. “I can’t imagine not being outside and part of a community of active people,” she asserts. “I feel like I was born with a drive to be physically active, so to give that up would have been a life of depression.”
Brenda decided the best way to regain movement was to ‘get back on the horse’ by using cross country skiing and biking as part of her slow physical rehabilitation process. “The short-term memory loss came back within a few months, but I remained clumsy. My brain takes so long to tell my limbs what to do that if I tripped I was already on the floor before my body could react,” she explains. “But I have learned two things from this: First, give your brain up to ten years to reconnect pathways and repair what it can. Secondly, whatever is hard for you to do, do it over and over to regain what you can.”
Three years and many falls later, she found more steady ski legs, and only two years after that she entered the Wyoming Senior Winter Games and won both the 5K skate and the 5K cross country ski races. She felt burned out on running after high school and college, so she didn’t think Summer Games were for her until she compared times in past National Senior Games and realized she could be competitive.
While more of a mid-distance runner, Brenda decided to try sprints and also enter field events in long jump, triple jump and shot put. In her debut 2013 appearance in Cleveland, she surprised herself by earning two medals and was hooked. She enthusiastically says, “I was going to go once, but I had so much fun I kept going!”
In four trips she has now racked up eight national medals, including three as part of a 4×100 relay team. The career Lutheran pastor relocated from Casper to northeast Montana two years ago and has her sights set on competing in the Montana Senior Games and testing her progress next May in the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
Brenda is grateful for regaining enough ability to compete and stay active. “I’m still robotic. My right side and left side don’t work in rhythm. But I’m doing it,” she says. “While I am still somewhat clumsy, training and competing in the Senior Games has brought me more health and ability than anyone, including my doctor, ever thought possible.”
Editor’s Note: March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Learn more here.
What’s YOUR story? To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete, Please Click Here.
Senior Health and Wellness
Don’t Gamble – Be Games SAFE and Prepped to Play
Generally, Senior Game athletes demonstrate better overall health status than their peers. Recent findings from a Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) study show that Senior Game athletes have significantly lower levels of cardiovascular disease and diabetes compared to the general population.
However, there is no evidence confirming that these benefits translate to decreased chances of contracting COVID-19. Furthermore, until a significant number of seniors in the general population get vaccinated, it is important that we all continue to take care of others and ourselves by taking measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Research shows that over half those who are 75 years and older underestimate their risk of getting COVID-19 and engage in unsafe behaviors. There is an alarming lack of understanding of the level of risks COVID-19 poses to adults 65 and older. Once people are informed about those risks, more than half of them say they would modify their behavior to keep their older friends and loved ones safe.
Recent developments in vaccine manufacturing, distribution chains and accessibility are creating greater opportunities for the future of a sustainable return to play. Vaccinations are an important step to help protect you from getting COVID-19 and to facilitating a strong sustained return to Senior Games play at all levels throughout the United States. Contact your local health department for more information about vaccines in your area. You can also visit CDC.gov for information on vaccine distribution in your state, and for answers to common vaccine questions.
NSGA and BellAge encourage people of all ages to take CV19 CheckUp to view their COVID-19 risk levels and how to mitigate those risks. Click this link to CV19CheckUp.org and take the free, anonymous assessment in less than ten minutes.
Stay well and continue to enjoy low risk activities such as outdoor exercise, camping, and sports like power walking, running, cycling, race walking, golf, and tennis. Get ready for a big reunion in Greater Fort Lauderdale!
This article was prepared by Andrew Walker, MPH, NSGA Health and Wellness Director
NSGA Health & Wellness Partners
NSGA Sport Partners