Fort Lauderdale One Year Out Event Shares “What’s New for 2022”
The 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana were just one year away on May 10, and the date was celebrated with a gathering of supporters at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort by Visit Lauderdale, the official destination marketing organization for Greater Fort Lauderdale (Broward County), and NSGA.
The 15-minute Facebook Live program, hosted by Visit Lauderdale President & CEO Stacy Ritter, was set against a beach backdrop to emphasize the iconic natural wonders and attractions that Greater Fort Lauderdale has to offer.
After remarks by representatives from Humana and Visit Lauderdale, NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker revealed two developments that will positively impact The Games and the Senior Games Movement. The first announced creation of The USA Today Senior Games Training Center, a special online resource made possible by Humana. The other is the introduction of the new NSG CUP presented by KOHLER Walk-in Bath, which will provide athletes and states a new way to compete for recognition.
The day’s activities also included a sports demonstration of Beach Volleyball and Basketball at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park that was videotaped for a special segment of the popular NBC “6 In the Mix” midday show. As noted by Riker at the program, Beach Volleyball, 8v8 Soccer and Cornhole have been added as Open Sports for the 2022 Games.
USA Today Senior Games Training Center Announced
Humana, the Presenting Sponsor of National Senior Games since 2007, has partnered with USA Today to produce an exciting and interactive online destination that brings inspiring Senior Games content and compelling engagements into one place. The USA Today Senior Games Training Center will be promoted throughout the USA Today media platform and include stories, interactive articles, photography, a sweepstakes, even a trivia engagement.
Watch for news about the launch of this platform to come soon. We’re excited about the potential to reach millions of people and providing senior athletes with a new resource!
New NSG CUP Creates Additional Medal Competition for Athletes and States
There will be a new way for athletes and states to compete with the introduction of The NSG CUP presented by KOHLER Walk-in Bath, which was revealed at our One Year Out event. The concept is to level the playing field by measuring the percentage of medals won based on the number of athletes from each state.
NSGA has always reported and ranked State Medal totals at National Senior Games, but smaller states with accomplished athletes never receive recognition. “The larger states typically collect the most medals,” NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker said. “With the NSG CUP, now any size state can potentially have bragging rights for packing the most punch based on their size. It will be another way to motivate our athletes even more to play for state pride.”
The NSG CUP was revealed during the Facebook Live event, and athlete interest in the idea was on full display when Brian Hankerson, elite record holding track and field athlete from Hollywood, Florida was introduced to represent athletes. After being handed the cup to admire, Hankerson refused to give it back, jokingly saying the other states would have to come take it away from him and his fellow Floridians. (Read his Athlete of the Month feature below.)
We are excited to offer yet another way for athletes to compete for state pride. Who will hoist The NSG CUP next May?
More State Games Coming
Athletes can still qualify in 2021 State Senior Games for the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Greater Fort Lauderdale. But even if you have already qualified under our amended qualification rules, these games are excellent opportunities to get back into play and be in your best shape by next May. It’s also a boost to the spirit to see your fellow athletes and organizers again!
There’s a quick way to check which games are scheduled by clicking on the “Qualifying Games Calendar At A Glance” box on our State Information Page at NSGA.com. Each state independently makes their best decisions based on their circumstances, will share new information for the page and communicate directly with athletes about their status for 2021.
Pittsburgh 2023 Announcement Video and Media Coverage Recap
Our announcement of Pittsburgh as our 2023 Host City could not have gone better! The “Where Will We Be in 2023?” social media campaign shared daily hints for one week and engaged many to join in the detective work, and our Facebook Live reveal at the Heinz History Center featured excited athletes and attendees cheering and waving the iconic “Terrible Towels.”
Our hosts successfully garnered tremendous media coverage that made the region know that National Senior Games would be back in The City of Champions in 2023. You can find links to the major media stories and watch the entire announcement program video on our 2023 National Senior Games information page.
May Athlete of the Month
Leaps of Faith – Brian Hankerson, 62, Hollywood, Florida
It’s easy to assume that athletes just have a gift and that it’s not something you could go out and do, especially in midlife. Brian Hankerson no longer believes that and offers his story as proof. While he always knew he could jump and run, he never knew how good he might be until he put it to the test and won his first ever competitive race at age 45.
It was a harbinger of great things to follow, and Brian, now 62, is just getting started in his senior athletic career.
The Miami native still runs track sprints and relays at some meets, but he has become more focused on jumping since discovering his talent. In National Senior Games Top Ten Performance records, the name Brian Hankerson sweeps the #1 spot all-time in Long Jump for Men’s 50-54, 55-59 and 60-64 age groups. Add #1 in High Jump for 60-64 and top spot for Triple Jump’s 55-59 group. In 2015, he set the American indoor and outdoor masters track records for Men’s 55-59 Long Jump, breaking records that stood for 35 years.
“I’ve always been an athletic guy but was a shorty in high school – when I graduated I was only 5’2” and weighed 98 pounds,” he recalls. “So I spent time in band and did some wrestling, but I didn’t think about doing college sports.” The next year Brian grew ten inches and gained 50 pounds, but he was already on his way to an accounting career and a marriage that would produce four children and 12 grandkids. He lived sports through them and occasionally coached youth at a local park, making sure to run with the kids to be an example.
When he was 43, Brian was at a youth track meet and saw there were also masters athletes giving their all. He thought it would be fun to compete with those guys, and after he set high jump and long jump records in his first real competition, he knew there was more potential. As he progressed in masters track, other experienced athletes offered him advice and encouragement about training, rest and nutrition. One suggested his speed and the spring in his high jump could make the long jump his breakout sport.
Within three years, Brian had heeded the advice and was aggressively honing his skills as an elite athlete. “Like anything, if you want to be good at it you have to work at it,” he observes. “Do it right, honor the sport. So you have a unique gift. Well, how good can you be? I always strive to be the best at everything I do.”
The 2018 Florida Senior Games Athlete of the Year gains both strength and humility from his faith. He has used his PhD in accounting to serve for more than 20 years as chief operating and financial officer at The Faith Center, a 10,000-member church in Sunrise, Florida. He also has become an associate pastor and teams with his wife to offer marriage counseling. His patience, wisdom and caring attitude has carried into his sporting life, and he is happy that the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana will be hosted close to home.
“I believe everyone is here for a purpose, and for me it’s got to be more than just winning medals or glorifying myself,” he says. “People now come to me at the track to share their life concerns. And in the long jump competitions, the other men won’t let the event start until I pray with them. It’s gotten to the point that even some of the track officials want to join in.”
“I just found this to be my role at the meets, to be prepared to listen, to share and pray with someone in the midst of competition,” he continues. “Life goes on because we all have families and issues, successes and failures to deal with. I want to do my best to maximize my gift, both as an athlete and as a friend to others.”
“There’s so much you can do that you may sell yourself short on,” he concludes. “If you have confidence, take that leap of faith and put in the work, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.”
What’s YOUR story? To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete, Please Click Here.
Senior Health and Wellness
Connection, Community and Senior Games Resilience
In tough times, communities find strength in people—and people find strength in their communities. “Communities of Strength” is the theme for Older Americans Month (OAM) during the month of May. Older adults play a significant role in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.
Senior Games athletes are the key source of strength of the Senior Game’s movement. The successes and difficulties experienced in preparing, training and competing in local, state and National Senior Games have forged some of your resilience.
Recently, several examples of community and connection building occurred among our member States. Examples include the Oklahoma Senior Games collecting over forty inspirational stories written by Senior Game athletes; the California Senior Games creating meaningful conversations and building community through their virtual talk series where participants could engage with USA Olympians sharing stories of the Olympic Games and sport training tips; the New Mexico Senior Olympics cultivated community by hosting their own fitness challenge.
Notably, New Mexico also joined with the National Senior Games and Running Medicine in a daylong Creating Community Through Movement event that included a tai chi demonstration by NSGA staff member Andrew Walker. The event included the panel discussion Women’s Running Across the Generations with NSGA runner Kathrine Switzer of 261 Fearless.
In addition, NSGA created community and engagement with three virtual step challenges over the past year, giving many the motivation and support to continue moving during COVID-19.
This article was prepared by Andrew Walker, MPH, NSGA Health and Wellness Director
Far From Alone Initiative Targets Social Isolation
Strength is built and shown not only by bold acts, but also small gestures in day-to-day life, such as having a conversation with a friend. Health and well-being research shows that social connection can greatly improve your overall health. This has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic which exposed loneliness as a rising issue that many people face.
NSGA is joining others as partners of the Far From Alone initiative made possible by the Humana Foundation. Senior Games athletes have a great opportunity to help build better connectedness by spreading the word about the resources available to help you or your loved ones feel more socially connected. Sharing your Senior Games story can be a rich source of a meaningful conversation and inspiration for others.
NSGA Congratulates “Steps to WELL-Being” Challenge Winners!
The StepsToWELL-Being National Senior Games Challenge, our third virtual fitness challenge, has recently completed and we want to share top performances. This was the first to offer both individual and team challenges.
The NSGA Individual Challenge ended with a total of 46,223,689 steps. The top eight individuals were: Y. Lee, 2,633,489; T. Niemeyer, 1,669,086; E. Borden, 1,166,236; G. Mixon, 1,125,198; P. Cunio, 1,077,782; C. Zucker, 1,069,626; E. Curran, 1,051,419; and J. LeVasseur, 1,032,243 steps respectively. Moreover, twenty seven percent of these participants improved upon their average weekly beginning steps.
The Team Challenge contributed 63,127 steps towards an overall total of 16,863,399 steps or 8,432 miles! The top three finishers were Hawaii (Gerofit Hawaii), North Carolina and Massachusetts. The North Carolina Senior Games team demonstrated outstanding effort by recruiting 55 team members.
We again thank Own Your Own Health and Louisiana Governor’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports for providing the virtual platform for this fun challenge!