NSGA Mourns Passing of Co-founder Ken Marshall
The Senior Games Movement has lost one of its founding pioneers. Ken Marshall, who organized the first National Senior Olympics in 1987 with Harris Frank, passed away on September 16 in St. Louis at the age of 90. A detailed obituary can be read here.
The team of Marshall and Frank was essential to engage St. Louis for support, and to work with the independent Senior Games popping up around the country to spread the word and get their athletes to come to the inaugural Games. Harris Frank summarized their relationship this way: “I was Tom Sawyer, but Ken PAINTED THE FENCE!!”
Below are some of the other tributes that have flowed in:
“So glad he was a part of the 30th year anniversary and in the video. What a legacy!”
-Vicki Pilgrim, Georgia Golden Olympics
“Ken Marshall was a strong leader who helped to rally the St. Louis corporate community. He was instrumental in bringing the organization to life and worked hard to bring our vision to a reality. Although Ken and I did not always see eye to eye, I respected him tremendously for his drive, his insights and his ambition for our fledgling organization. I’ll remember his silver hair, his engaging smile and the twinkle in his eyes even when we were disagreeing! NSGA has lost a champion and St Louis has lost a leader they will not forget.”
-Irene Stillwell, Arizona Senior Olympics
“When I was asked to be on the initial Senior Olympics board, I met Ken for the first time and realized his passion for starting the National Games. Our paths didn’t cross often, but when they did, he was excited about how far the National organization had come and wanted to talk about where the games were going in the future. Without him and Harris Frank, we truly would not be competing today.”
-Ed True, one of the “Great Eight” National Senior Games athletes.
“I am so sorry to hear of Ken Marshall’s passing. He was certainly a giant, along with Harris Frank, in initiating the National Senior Olympic movement. Those of us who were involved from the beginning remember well the leadership standard Ken set for all of us. Thanks, Ken.”
-Dr. Robert G. Zeigler, former Chairman, Maryland Senior Olympics
NSGA was fortunate to gather Ken Marshall and Harris Frank for video interviews in St. Louis as we prepared our 30th Anniversary mini-documentary that was shown at the 2017 Celebration of Athletes. Both men were also at the top of our honor list of 30 Champions of the Games as part of the milestone. The duo had some fun taping the introduction, and it is only fitting that they opened the video. Watch it here.
Power Walk Added to National Senior Games for 2019
We are pleased to announce that the NSGA Games Committee and Board of Directors have approved the 1500m and 5K Power Walk events to be added as our 20th medal sport beginning with the 2019 National Senior Games. Race Walk will continue to be a medal sport.
Power Walk will be an “open sport” for 2019 only, meaning athletes will not be required to qualify. Athletes may compete in both the 1500M and the 5K. Athletes will be allowed to add Power Walk as a third sport, also for 2019 only. This will maximize participation from the outset. This approach will additionally allow more Member Games time to add the sport if it isn’t currently on their schedules for 2018.
Sue Hlavacek, NSGA Director of Programs and Events, explains that the primary reason for offering Power Walk is in the interest of the athletes. “As people age, many find their ability to follow the rules of Race Walk tends to decline, but they can still be competitive, fast walkers,” she explains. “Both Race Walk and Power Walk require the athlete to not lift both feet off the ground at the same time, which is considered running. But Race Walk has an additional rule – that the advancing leg be straightened (not bending at the knee) from the point of contact with the ground through the upright position.
“This is why many of our race walkers get disqualified at the National Senior Games,” she adds. “We felt there needed to be an alternative to allow more people to participate, and for a longer period of time.”
NSGA leadership also felt that Power Walking will provide another accessible sport for those who cannot compete in other sports, which expands opportunity for more people to stay fit and be a part of the NSGA movement.
Official Dates for 2019 Games are Set
Earlier this year we released dates for the 2019 National Senior Games being hosted in Albuquerque. Good news: organizers are finalizing sport venues and assembling the master calendar, and have determined that all sports can be efficiently completed in less time than first thought.
Please note that the new official dates for the 2019 Games are June 14-25, 2019. The sport specific dates are still being finalized. As information becomes available it will be posted on our website.
HUMANA Heroes: Athlete of the Month
Service With a Smile
John White takes his sports seriously, make no mistake about it. But we’ve noticed that even in the heat of a triathlon, he’s always the one who waves and manages to beam a smile as he makes his way by spectators.
The more you learn about the lifelong Milwaukee resident, the more you appreciate that he wants nothing more than for others to join him in an active lifestyle.
“Wherever I go, I push the agenda to promote the Games,” the eight-time National Senior Games athlete says. “Of course, I’ve found many people who did not play sports in high school and have never competed at anything. They’re sedentary. I have learned to take each person for where they’re at and promote not only senior sports, but also to get involved in any physical activity because it will be good for their health.”
John developed his people skills from participating in high school and college athletics, continuing through a 30+ year educational career with Milwaukee Public Schools as a teacher, coach, counselor, director of athletics and administrator.
Now 66, John recalls that he always loved to swim competitively, but let the activity lapse after college. “When you’re married with kids and working long hours, you really don’t have a lot of time for training and sports,” he explains. He eventually entered masters swimming, and says he was “reborn as an athlete” when introduced to triathlon in 1990. He didn’t know anything about cycling, and had never excelled as a runner. “But I do know swimming, and I liked the challenge. I just tried it and I liked it.”
He must have loved it, because he made the USA Triathlon Century Club with his 100th event in 2013, a feat that contributed to his induction into the WSO Hall of Fame that same year.
Longtime Wisconsin Senior Olympics (WSO) athlete Agnes Reinhard made John aware of Senior Games before he was 50. He agreed to be their triathlon coordinator and helped recruit others of age to enter The Games. He started competing in WSO’s triathlon and other sports as soon as he became eligible. He notes that his wife Mary also took up the sport.
With his larger-than-life personality and success with recruiting, John was asked to serve on the WSO Board of Directors in 2009. When the president’s position suddenly became open in 2012, John agreed to step up, and he still serves in that capacity. In January 2014, he was elected to the NSGA Board of Directors.
John’s accomplishments and volunteer efforts did not escape notice by the NSGA family, as he was nominated for and awarded the Harris Frank Distinguished Service Award at the Celebration of Athletes program during the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana. “It was a great honor,” he says. “There are a lot of great people doing the same things I am, with my Games and around the country. So, it’s humbling to be identified as one of them.
“Here in Wisconsin, there are many people on our board who are doing super-fantastic things in the community,” he adds. “It’s a team effort, and they deserve credit for some of the recognition I’ve received.”
What makes John smile most is when someone follows his lead and gets into The Games. “A great moment for me was when a guy walked up at the triathlon at Cleveland in 2013 and reminded me that I had told him he should join in with his wife and do the tri. It made me happy when he thanked me for helping to get him going.”
We’re always looking for great athlete stories! Submit yours, or nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you. Click here for the submission form.
Senior Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness Section at NSGA.com has New Look and Updated Content
This month, we unveil a newly-updated Health and Wellness Section on our website. New resources and links have been added, and information has been arranged to make things more reader-friendly. Below is a brief description of what you can now find by checking out the Health and Wellness tab at NSGA.com.
- Stay Healthy & Ready to Play – Take a quick health quiz and get tips on how to stay healthy and feeling great. Also find information and research updates from the ongoing SAFE (Senior Athlete Fitness Exam) program created and coordinated by Dr. Becca Jordre at the University of South Dakota.
- Humana Well Being – New articles and interactive resources are now available to support your lifestyle changes and enhance your health and sport performance. Our longtime sponsor, Humana is equally-committed as NSGA to advocate health and wellness to aging Americans.
- Partners Page – find excellent information and resources from our health and wellness partners – American Council on Exercise, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, Go4Life, and the YMCA of the USA.
- Senior Games Blogs – This page has been updated and given a new look. Find links to blogs by senior athletes, plus other professional and media blogs that regularly offer helpful content related to senior health and wellness.
- ACE Training Tips – The American Council on Exercise has teamed with NSGA to provide exclusive access to a wealth of health and fitness resources, including articles and training videos. The ACE/NSGA Web Portal is only available free of charge through NSGA.com. Step up your game here, by entering the portal and creating a login name and password. Feel free to share the link with your friends and family.
- Personal Best Page – NSGA’s signature health and wellness initiative profiles a broad range of senior athletes who demonstrate how everyone can overcome challenges and obstacles to improve their quality of life by pursuing their own personal best every day.
We hope you enjoy this useful information, and will share this resource with others. Best of all, more new content is in development to be added to this section. We’ll let you know when new updates are made.
NSGA Online Merchandise Store
The online NSGA Store is where you can order a wide array of wearables imprinted with the NSGA and National Senior Games logos and themes. You can select your own style and colors and can custom imprint to your heart’s content.