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Softball: What A Game - Leon Speroff

Our game at Delta Park in June had just ended, and I was standing near home plate after our high-five ceremony. I heard someone shouting my name. It was Red Hangland, standing behind the backstop fence, along with Carlo (Mouse) Fazzolari, Joe Snook, and Jerry Grover. I walked over to the fence, and Red said, “We want you to play with us in St. George.” I said, “I’m not sure I’m good enough.” All four of them started talking, encouraging me, reassuring me that I was good enough. Red explained that his team, sponsored by Oregon City Sports, would be playing in the 80+ division, and he urged me to join them. I thanked him and said I would think about it. My fear was that I would not perform well under the spotlight, and I would let the team and myself down.

My strategy for the last five years has been to stay in shape, faithfully attend batting practice in the winter, and most of all, to stay healthy. I figured that if I could maintain my level of performance, as the other guys aged, their decline would come to my level and descend below it. I wondered: had that moment come at age 80? Sen and I talked about it, and she pressed this point home: how many people have an opportunity like this? It was a point that impressed me, and after a week of thinking about it, I told Red to count on me.

As the weeks passed, I became progressively more excited and enthused. The World Senior Games began in 1987, with 200 participants. John Huntsman became the principal sponsor of the Games in 1989. Today there are about 11,000 athletes competing in 30 different sports, including the expected sports from Archery to Track and Field, but there are also some surprising competitions such as Cowboy Action Shooting, Bridge, and Square Dancing. Since 1987, older athletes from 77 countries have come to St. George in October. Athletes must be at least 50 years old. In softball alone in 2015, there were 340 teams, 3,600 ball players.

I arrived in St. George on the afternoon of Sunday, October 11th. Red took me to the Dixie Convention Center to check-in. This was the 27th year that Red has participated in the 29 years of the Huntsman Senior Games, and it was evident at the Convention Center as Red introduced me to one old guy after another. Check-in included a green plastic arm band, like the ones attached to hospital patients, to be worn at all times. Red explained that the competition was intense, and the arm bands were to prevent teams slipping in younger ringers at game time.

MONDAY, 12 OCTOBER Monday morning, we gathered at a nearby city park for batting practice. The park measured about 600 x 600 feet, sitting at the foot of a massive, red wall of rock that was shining brightly, catching the early morning sunlight. About seven teams showed up, and soon there were balls flying every direction, an exciting experience that was a little dangerous. I knew most of my teammates from our Portland leagues, but a few in the batting order were new to me: Wayne Bennett — Left Field Joe Snook — Left Center Field Dick Fabrycki — Rover Johnnie Warren — Shortstop Jerry Ross — Second Base Dean Soule — Third Base Red Hangland — First Base Ray Anderson — Pitcher, Second Base Dave Smith — Catcher John Barham — Right Field Jim Ellis — Pitcher Bill Pinto — Right Field Leon Speroff — Right Center Field

Yes, I was batting last, an appropriate spot for the newcomer. Our first game on Monday was at the Bloomington Softball Complex. It was a pretty day, an azure blue sky with mountain-clear air. St. George is at an elevation of 2,880 feet, and the sun is intense. It was immediately apparent that hydration was important, and we were grateful for the baskets of fruit slices and the large container of iced water provided by the Games Staff. Not knowing where to eat or when we were playing, I didn’t have breakfast. When we got to the ball field around 11:30, I decided I had better find some nourishment. There was a small concession stand, and I had a Hostess Cup Cake and a Twinkie. I told the lady when I paid, “Don’t tell my wife!”

Our opponent was the Emerald 80s from Seattle, a team that travels to many tournaments, playing a lot of games. The mercy rule ends the game if one team is losing by 12 or more runs after five innings. We were mercied: 25–13, a humbling, inauspicious start to our competition. We found the sun to be a problem as fly balls came directly out of the sun, disappearing from our view.

In our second game on our first day of competition, we played the Lethridge Miners from Canada. My first at-bat gave me one of my week’s highlights, a drive between the left and right center fielders. I was running as hard as I could, and I chugged into third base for a triple. We were winning 13–10 in the last inning. The Miners batted last, and they promptly scored two to make it 13–12. With two outs and a runner on second base, the batter hit a hard, low line drive to my left. I had to run about 15 feet, giving me time to think: I have to catch this ball! I reached my mitt out as far as I could, low and to the left, about knee high. The ball hit my mitt with a loud smack, and it stuck there as if I had glue in my mitt: a game-saving catch! I ran to the infield, holding the ball up high, a huge smile on my face. My teammates were yelling and high-fiving me. One of the best plays and moments in my life!! That night, one of the wives told me that as the line drive went into the outfield, the wives in the bleachers all said, “Oh, no,” then that turned into cheers when I caught it.

TUESDAY, 13 OCTOBER We started the day again with batting practice at the city park. I played with Ray’s team in the Delta League five years ago. He came up to me and said, “You have really improved from five years ago.” I told him, that I had worked hard over the last few years, but thinking about his comment, I concluded that it wasn’t just my strategy of maintaining my ability as I aged, but the bilateral knee replacements I had three years ago made a big difference. On our second day, we were at the Little Valley Softball Complex. This site is not as picturesque, sitting in the midst of a new development of large houses. But all the fields are of the highest quality, a dirt infield that is finely manicured, and an outfield of grass that is similar to a putting green, thick but freshly mowed to yield true bounces. There were 14 games scheduled today at this complex alone, but we had to play only one game, against the California Gold Rush. Yesterday, the Gold Rush beat the Emerald 80s, the team that wallopped us. This gave us all some trepidation, and our expectations took a hit when they scored five runs in the first inning. But, the Gold Rush scored only two more runs.

Jim was pitching, throwing a high ball, so high that he had frequent illegal pitches (over 12 feet high). In my opinion, a high ball comes down at a hard-to-hit angle, but it is also harder to throw strikes. In the fourth inning, Red had a nice single, and I ran for him. Our next hitter hit a liner past an outfielder. I was running as hard as I could, around second base, heading for third. I heard the third base coach yell, “Go home, go home!” I rounded third, thinking, “Are you kidding; that’s a long way from first to home.” I heard the guys on the bench yelling, “Go hard, go hard!” Now I’m thinking, “I am going hard!” I score, and I’m still breathing hard walking to the outfield at the end of the inning. I was elated and surprised to find us ahead, 9–7, going into the last inning. Their first batter grounded out to Ray at second base. With one out, the next batter hit a hard, line drive heading over our first baseman’s head. I was thinking, “Oh Oh! Red stretched high on his toes, all five feet four inches of him. He reached up and snagged the ball with his mitt, an ice cream cone catch. The next guy popped up to Ray at second base for the third out, and we won 9–7, beating a team everyone though was better than we are. We were sky high, enjoying hugs and high-fives. Another fun and joyous moment. We now anxiously awaited the seeding and who are opponents would be, determined by the results of the first two days.

WEDNESDAY, 14 OCTOBER Round two began at Gubler Park, a complex near the rock walls of Snow Canyon. We were in a funk the first game against the Coast Capitals from Vancouver, B.C. They scored ten runs in the first two innings. The infield play was weak, dropping almost every ball thrown or hit to them. I had an error in the outfield, looking up to throw a ball rolling to me before catching it. At least ten of their runs were gifts. We forgot to wake up. The final score was a disappointing 15–9. We had a break of about two hours before our next game at 3:10. Our opponent was the team we beat Tuesday, the Lethridge Miners, the game ending with my game-saving catch. Our apprehension was brewing under a hot sun. But the Miners played poorly like we had in the morning. We didn’t hit the ball well, but they couldn’t hold on to the ball, and they couldn’t hit. The final score was 17–4. The hot day and the multiple games were beginning to have an effect; bodies were tired. Clauis joined us today, acting as our bench coach. Clauis, is 73 years old and playing in the 70–75 division with the other team from the Portland area in the Senior Games. When I thanked him for his help, he said: “Your team is my team too.” His spirit and supportive encouragement had an even greater impact on us than his helpful strategic advice. Jerry grumbled, after weakly grounding out: “I might as well swing with a rolled-up Oregonian!” Clauis, when a runner was in a close play at home, informed the umpire, “Safe as a lizard!” Red, when Johnnie lunged at a low and short pitch, yelled, “Let it come to you sweetheart!”

THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER We skipped batting practice and came back to the Little Valley Complex to play the Redwood City Chiefs from California. Right away, you could tell our spirit was focused on playing better than yesterday. We jumped on them with our hitting and played good defense. We were energetic and responding to Clauis’s entreaties to hit it hard. We won by a final score of 14–6. We had only a 15-minute rest, and HOLY MOLY, we were playing in the gold medal game. Our opponents were the Coast Capitals from Vancouver, B.C., the same team that beat us yesterday morning when we played so poorly. It was the only game of the day for the Coast Capitals, and I believe that was a deciding factor. It was another hot day, with no breeze and that intense sun on our dark shirts. We ran out of gas. The game was not close as we lost 15–6, giving us a Senior Games overall record of 4–3.

WE WON THE SILVER MEDAL!

What fun to have the medals placed around our necks and to have a team picture taken behind the championship banner. To make it even sweeter for me, as we gathered for our picture, Red came to me, presented me a ball, and said, “We want you to have this.” It was a ball signed by each of my teammates. I couldn’t hold it back; I cried.

CONCLUSION These seven games in four days were an experience that went way beyond my expectations. How many people get to have a medal placed around their neck? But besides winning a silver medal, the camaraderie of this team was special: uplifting, positive, meaningful friendship, the absence of carping, finger-pointing, or any negative reinforcement. To be sure the aim is to win, but at the same time, to enjoy the process, being with each other, helping each other have a good time. Our time together exemplified what being at teammate is all about.

What more can you ask of yourself or another than to be a good teammate. Three years ago, after eight blood transfusions in June, my softball season was a physical and mental trial with chemotherapy for my lymphoma. I didn’t know if I would ever play softball again. And here I am — three years in remission. For this reason, I am especially grateful to my teammates for making this past week possible. Many men, young and old, do not know how to express emotion. There are more man-to-man hugs during and after a senior softball game than at any other time in most men’s lives. Senior softball is a vehicle for emotion, providing excuses and circumstances for manly interactions that are hard to do anywhere else. The older one becomes, the more priceless are these moments, and when struggling with an illness, the support of fellow senior ball players is precious. There certainly is the constant awareness of our age and our limited longevity. But most of these overt and subliminal interactions reflect the presence, apparent for some, underlying for others, of this wonderful kinship shared by senior ball players:

Our Softball Family. SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!


I Did It, And So Can You - Mary Kiholm

If you are a seasoned cyclist, stop reading – you probably won’t relate. However if you are relatively new and thinking about participating in the Huntsman World Senior Games, you may gain courage from my story.

At 69+, I decided it was time that I got rid of the extra weight I had slowly accumulated from a sedentary professional life and even more leisurely retirement years. When it came time to add exercise to the dietary mix, I bought a really cute Beach Cruiser bicycle, added a pet carrier for our Westie, and began my incredible journey. Having always hated any type of exercise and especially SWEAT, I figured that at least I could attract a smile from neighbors and friends. Living in Southern Utah means that you can’t go more than a few miles without climbing hills and it took a while, and a lot of practice, but I got to where I could finally conquer most of the hills I met.

While my first attempts were strenuous and heart pumping, it was at least doable. Then one day my chain came off and I realized that I had no brakes without it. The hills were even more terrifying with that realization – time for a new bike. Over the next couple of years and two hybrid bikes later, I was riding farther, but the hills were still a huge problem. Afraid I would not continue riding if I didn’t enjoy it, I added an electric assist to make hill climbing less of a challenge. I was having so much fun (and 70 lbs lighter), I celebrated my 75th birthday by riding 75 miles. This drew lots of comments on Facebook and a friend suggested that I take part in the World Senior Games. I looked into it, but alas, no electric help is allowed. Still, I had run out of personal challenges, so I went bike shopping again – determined to give it a try. By now, I knew my heart was that of a “Roadie,” so I went for a road bike with the carbon frame, etc. Immediately I lost 12 lbs of bike, 12 lbs of electric hub and battery, plus 20 lbs of dog and 5 weeks before the games, was ‘in training’ with my new bike and my own power only.

Not knowing in which skill level I fit, I signed up for the lowest division. This was good, because I was the one only signed up for 3 out of the 4 events in my Div/age group, assuring me of 3 Gold Medals. While lining up for the event in which I had competition (1), we had a minute to chat. When my competitor expressed concern about making it up the on-ramp of the course, I secretly thought, “Yes! I’ve got this.” After the events I felt guilty taking home all 4 Gold until I compared my results with other Div/age groups and saw that I still would have won some Gold and Silver. Knowing now, that I have a competitive nature, watch out all you fantastic women I met while taking part in this event – I’m training hard for this year.


Stoked! - Jim Vorass

I am stoked and honored to be among a whole slew of world class athletes in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I've missed Long Jumping since high school, when I had to bypass my one and only trip to STATE (Florence, Wisconsin) as my first day in the Army took precedence.

Just heard about this whole 'Senior Olympics' stuff last year from a coworker. I had no idea how many of us there are out there! And how GOOD you all are still...here I thought it was just me and my brother...the only two non-couch potatoes left on the planet at 50+. But no...there are thousands of us and it was a breath of fresh air to compete in my first Senior Olympics in the Illinois State event this year...getting STOMPED in the sprint events but holding my own in the Long Jump. Incredible talent out there all the way through all the age groups. Inspiring, uplifting, butterfly inducing, just like High School! Thanks for holding these games! Can't wait!


Stay in the Game - Warren Bailey

You would think that "Staying in the Game" meant the ability for me to be able to compete in the "Huntsman World Senior Games" and win metals at the age of 69 years old in 2 events! But actually "Staying in the Game" for me is the transition my life slowly took in a positive way 14 years ago when I was told by my primary doctor that I had an incurable and very rare cancer called Leiomyosarcoma. Soon afterwards, I would find out, that it also was Stage 4, and had already metastasized from my right thigh to my lungs! Immediately, my business, family and of course my competitive Racquetball, everything came to a standstill!

My life that was in the process of lasting forever, with very little to worry about, suddenly changed right then and there! My new life was about to begin, which, at first, was completely void of goals and direction and now contained fear! Because my cancer was so rare, my wife and I had to leave Alaska and be treated for the first 5 years at the University of Washington - Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The first 5 years was trying to catch up with the this disease! While recuperating from my first surgeries in Seattle, I read anything and everything about my cancer, but what got me started the most was from a quote from Dr. Seuss. He said "You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go".

Now it has been 14 years since I made up my mind to "Stay in the Game", and not let this disease change my life, except in the direction I want! Being a survivor has changed my life in a positive way. No matter what course this cancer goes. I'll meet it head on as I've done so many times before with the wisdom and knowledge of Dr. Seuss and the many others that have taught me.

I will soon be going to my 8th Huntsman World Senior Games, and have won my share of medals in both Racquetball and Softball. In 2013, after having to give up the game of Racquetball because of cancer, I won the National Masters Singles Championships for men over 65. With my new life that God has extended to me, I now raise money for cancer, on a National Cancer Board and help in as many ways as I can including helping the newly diagnosed get started.

Before cancer, I played Racquetball for me, but now I play it as my way of helping fight cancer. Like so many other people, my only hope is to find a cure. Otherwise, I will always be fighting Leiomyosarcoma as long as I live. Helping people with cancer is, and will be my main purpose no matter which direction my cancer goes, good or bad, for as long as I live.

Last but not least I want to thank my family. They've been with me for every challenge and they've made me so proud with their love and devotion. I've come to realize that my grandkids & great grandkids look to me with respect, and handling this disease correctly will in some way be another lesson I can teach them in life.


Anticipation - Tim Hay

I can almost taste it. This will be my first time at The Huntsman World Senior Games. This will be a major adventure for me. Actuarial numbers convinced me that if I'm going to "do Huntsman," I'd better get with it. My 80th birthday pushed brusquely past in July.

My background was in Table Tennis and Golf. I was good, but 30 years of my work / life took precedence. Finally retired, and with a bit of arthritis, I first played volleyball at age 70. A couple of years of 'Jungle Ball' preceded learning that "there really are rules!"

Switching venues, I absorbed instruction from smooth, long-time players. I worked my way up to play without embarrassment with the best age 50+ players in the Seattle area. And I'm getting better as the weeks pass.

Twenty valuable months have been wasted recovering from various surgeries. A couple of new knees were involved, plus the grand-daddy of oddball "repair jobs" when I ripped my left hamstring completely off its attachment to my pelvis while chasing an errant "pass." Dumb.

I registered on 'TeamFinder', and Joe Purcella must've seen something he likes, for he told me that I'll be the 'newbie' on his 'purple' team from Denver. I'm grateful.

Anticipation. Excitement. Lots of new people to have fun with. And the competition! Thanks, Huntsman World Senior Games. It'll be great!!


MY FIRST SIX YEARS AT THE HUNTSMAN WORLD SENIOR GAMES

My first two years of playing softball in the Huntsman Senior Games were as a player for someone else. I decided to start my own 60+ team because I wanted to choose my players for character and ability so we could have a lot of fun in Utah.

I started out trying to get all Oregon players, but most of the guys I asked were already going to Utah with other teams or couldn't make the trip. So I used the Huntsman World Senior Games website (TeamFinder) to find players which turned out to one of the fun parts of putting a team together.

I contacted players and started a team called the Mittfits. No it’s not the misfits; a lot of people make that mittake. ;-)

On my 2012 team I had players from Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Utah and Alberta, Canada. In the past I have had players from Florida, Texas, Montana, Missouri and Michigan. A lot of them went to other teams for different reasons. Some went to 65+ teams, some to higher division teams, some just didn't like the way I managed, and some I didn't ask back. No matter what the reason, it is fun to see some of my ex-players each year in October.

I have assembled a great bunch of 60+ year olds. The proof is in what some people have said about the Mittfits. In 2011, after a game one of the players from the other team came over and said that we were the nicest bunch of guys they had played against in a long time. This year one of our umpires after a game said he’d like to umpire all our games. One of the board members at the manager’s meeting told me that he and some of the others think that we have one of the best names for a softball team. As we were getting ready to have our picture taken for winning the silver, somebody from another team told one of my players that we should win the sportsmanship award. Most of the players from 2011 came back for 2012. I already have 11 of the 14 guys from 2012 saying they want to play again in 2013, so I should have the same great team attitude in 2013.

When I started this team I always said, that win or lose we are in St. George to have fun and winning would make it more fun. Well this year was more fun. We won our first medal (silver medal in the C division) and it truly was even more fun winning. So I believe I am living up to what the Huntsman World Senior Games are all about: having fun, good friendly competition, meeting old friends and making new friends. Thank you Huntsman World Senior Games for 6 great years, 2 as a player and 4 as a player/manager, and looking forward to spending many more Octobers in your wonderful town.


Together Again after 35 Years - Brenda Blackham

Thirty five years ago I coached a wonderful high school volleyball team in CarsonCity, Nevada. They all completed college degrees. Today we are an attorney, a high school principal, a social worker, an ITT for the American academy of Family Practice, a physical therapist, a probation officer, a painter, a forester, and an anesthesiologist . When the team turned 50, they decided a reunion was in order, and Huntsman senior games was a perfect site. In 2014 we competed as the Senior Senators, who now reside in six different states. No practice and we took our lumps. But we celebrate that we are healthy, active, and blessed that even some of our parents are here to watch us compete.


Colorado Peaches Make an Impression - Eva Fry

Last night, at dinner, I sat beside two sisters. One age 81, the other age 82. They were sweet older ladies. Both had been teachers and taught, many years ago, in a single room school house with children from the first to twelfth grade. They were sweet white haired grandma’s,  like some of the dear ladies you might see at a senior care home except there was something different about them, something you would not know, just by looking at them.

They were participants in The Huntsman World Senior Games held in St. George Utah. These older ladies were athletes participating on a soft ball team, competing for the gold, silver and bronze. You would never guess that they were seasoned ball players, that when they step up to that plate they can hit the ball way out on left field or that they can run around the bases and even catch that fly ball!!! They call their team the “Colorado Peaches.”

They play on a team of ladies from the age of 70 to 83 and all the team members are amazing athletes. Many have played ball all their lives, like these two sisters who played ball at the little old school house, each recess and lunch time, and have continued their love of the sport. Others started playing ball in their old age, like me. This is my first year, at the age of 75, to play soft ball. These ball players may not be as fast or as good as they were in their younger years but they have found a way to KEEP GOING and they are an inspiration to me.

It has been the most amazing experience for me to be a part of the new age for older folks. I watch in amazement as I see these senior citizens, who have senior problems, like replaced knees and hips, who may walk with a cane, who may be stooped over –“Play Ball.” Some of them have a hard time walking, let alone running. But that doesn’t stop them. They hit that ball from home base and then run, as best they can, to first base and then the ladies who are still good runners take over and run for them back to home base.

This experience has proven to me that you can’t tell a book by its cover. They ladies are a sample of thousands of older men and women, in the Huntsman’s World Senior Games, who are participating in all sports and are proving that older age is no excuse for being old. This truly is a new age or old age. These athletes have found the fountain of youth, in sports, and you will never find a happier group of people.


Cancer Initially Changed Our Plans - Frances Flatau

In May of 2007, while playing in the Eastern Shore Senior Games in Maryland, someone told me about the Huntsman World Senior Games.  My tennis doubles partner and I talked about it and decided to sign up for the Games in St. George, Utah.  However in July that year, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It's an understatement to say that kind of ruined our plans for 2007.

I had surgery and underwent 9 months of chemotherapy and radiation. In June of 2008 I was pronounced cancer free.  We decided that the best way to celebrate was to participate in the Huntsman World SeniorGames! And so we did. We have competed every year since. While we haven't won any medals yet, we're confident that this is the year!!

I will be 79 at the Games this year, or better yet 7 in survivor years.


Looking Forward to the Games - George Geise

I don't have a particularly heartwarming tale to tell, but few athletes are looking forward more to the Huntsman World Senior Games than this retired Montanan.

On Oct. 10, 2012 I suffered a massive heart attack while playing softball at the Huntsman World Senior Games Tournament. Thanks to emergency help from our opponents from Ogden, Utah, and great work by the team at Intermountain Medical Center, I was able not only to survive but to make a complete recovery.

I will be playing softball, golf and will compete in the basketball shooting contest in St. George next month. I plan to visit the hospital and encourage recovering heart patients that there's plenty of hope for them, just as there was for me. George Geise, state director, Montana Senior Olympics, Inc.


"It's Time" - Kelly Haberman

As I loaded my first bike in the the RV, preparing to leave shortly for my 2nd trip to the Huntsman World Senior Games in 2013, I reflected back on my journey.

Most of my life I've been overweight and struggled with painful knees. In the Fall of 2010 I had reached my breaking point, returning back to the Orthopeadic surgeon. Bawling the entire appointment, I knew I couldn't go on living with the pain, I was ready to "check out". I had turned 50 in the spring.

The only thing I heard at that appointment was "Kelly, it's time". Three weeks later the first knee was replaced and one month from the first, the second was replaced.

Now, the doctor told me I'd lose weight, but 135lbs? Long story short, with my new knees I decided it was time to start living again and to do so, I needed to get healthy. Physical Therary was all done at home and six months later I joined our Golds Gym.  As intimidating as it was, I discovered an "app" called LoseIt and began logging my food and going to the gym.

CyclingIn the months to come I kept showing up at Golds, joined a spin class and Fit & Fall. As the weight melted off, my self esteem improved, I continued working on knee rehab. Total knees are not easy, especially having both done, 30 days apart. So skip ahead three years from two TKR, I'm the healthiest I've ever been in my life.

I love cycling, pedaling close to 200 miles a week, spin class 3 days a week, Fit & Fall and last spring started CrossFit. I spend 14 hours a week at Gold's over 3 days.  Yes, I love the gym that much. When I was given the precious gift of "life", it has ignited some internal flame that is driving me to get stronger and even healthier.

Racing my bikes at the Huntsman World Senior Games is the true test to exactly how strong I really am.


The Perfect Love Story – (From Russia with Love)

Dan Cravens and Marina Andreeva first met at the 2004 Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah. It was love at first sight. God does have a sense of humor. Who would believe that Dan, a retired U.S. Army Military Special Agent, and Marina, a Table Tennis Sports Coach from Nerungri, Yakytia Region, Russia would get together? It really is a small world after all.

Dan was from Las Vegas, Nevada and the Table Tennis Coordinator for the Nevada Senior Games and a participant in the Games Table Tennis competition. Marina was the Table Tennis Coach from Russia. It was the first time attending the Games for both. Dan won two silver medals and one blond at the Games.

Dan says he is good at Table Tennis but Marina is even better. His philosophy is “if you can’t beat them, join them."

They make the perfect team and couple since Dan is left-handed and Marina is right-handed. They complete and complement each other. The Russian team accepted Dan’s kind invitation and hospitality to visit Las Vegas, Nevada after the Games. Dan saw them off at the bus station and told Marina he would call her once a month. Instead, he set his alarm at 5:00 a.m. to call her every day. He thought that the mail was going by dogsled because it took a month before the first card and letters arrived. Marina had to have a valid reason for leaving Russia. Dan made up the Table Tennis Exhibition and Training Seminar.

The invitation and ticket arrived the day before she departed Russia. Marina went to her Director and told her she was attending the Table Tennis Exhibition and Training Seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marina arrived on February 9, 2005. They celebrated Dan’s birthday on February 13th and Dan proposed the next day on Valentine’s Day. Dan and Marina were married on February 27th at the world-famous “Little White Wedding Chapel.”

Theirs is a marriage made in Heaven. Dan considers himself to be the luckiest man in the world. Not only did he win Marina’s heart but also the heart of her two lovely and wonderful daughters. Julia is a Financial Officer for a construction firm in Moscow, Russia and Anna is a Front Desk Clerk at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and pursuing her college education in International Travel and Tourism.

For the send-off of the Nevada athletes to the 2010 U.S. National Senior Games in Palo Alto., California, Dan and Marina were spokespersons along with Las Vegas Mayor, Oscar Goodman, and U.S. National Senior Games Spokesperson, former U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist, Peggy Fleming. Peggy Fleming stated that Dan and Marina are role models for seniors by maintaining health through sports and fitness. At the 2010 Nevada Senior Games and the Huntsman World Senior Games, Dan won two Gold Medals and a bronze medal and Marina won six gold medals. Between the two of them, they have trained, competed, coached and promoted the sport of Table Tennis throughout most of the world.

Marina received her U.S. citizenship in November of 2009. Dan and Marina do everything together and are partners in life, love, and sports. Together, they are the Table Tennis Coordinators for the Nevada Senior Games and use their God-given talents to share with others by running a Table Tennis program, coaching and teaching Table Tennis. They put all their heart and love in everything they do. They start Sunday mornings out right by volunteering in the nursery rocking the babies for the first church service and then Dan ushers for the second service. Truly, Dan and Marina are a “Gold Medal” couple. They found their soul mate and partner for life.


I Know I Can Overcome Anything

In August of 2009 at the age of 49, I had just finished up one of my best Track and Field seasons ever.  I had won the State Games of America national titles in the 110 meter high-hurdles, 400 meter intermediate-hurdles and 1500 meter Race Walk.  I also won silver medals in the long jump and triple jump).  Three days later I’m in the hospital with a 105 degree fever and am diagnosed with an auto immune disease called Sjogrens disease.

For the next 16 months my mouth is not producing saliva, my eyes and nasal passages were dry as a bone, I have numerous fevers that put me in the hospital, I lost my immune system 3 times for 3-4 months at a time, I'm in terrible pain in my entire body, I lost the use of 4 fingers in my right hand (trigger finger condition), I develop neuropathy in 3/4 of my body, I'm on numerous medications including prednisone, I get kidney stones every 3 months, I gained 30 pounds, etc.

In December of 2010 I wake up one morning and I have my immune system back, my neuropathy is gone (and neuropathy just doesn't go away), my energy had returned! (In November of 2010 I went off all of my medications and switched to auto immune system vitamin therapies and an anti-occident drink).

I cautiously began Track and Field and swimming training. I changed my diet, drank buckets of water daily, slept more, modified my training, and kept taking my auto immune system boosting vitamins and a high anti-occident drink.

In 2011 I won 77 medals in 8 track meets and won my age division in 3 events (1500 meter Race Walk, 3000 meter Race Walk, and 5000 meter Race Walk) at the Huntsman World Senior Games. In 2012, I won 156 medals in 14 track meets.  I also set 24 state, invitational, national and World records.  In addition I earned 2 USATF All-American Awards (sprinting and Race Walking) and was named the Utah Amateur Athlete of the Year.

At the 2012 Huntsman World Senior Games I won the Age division and "All Around" titles in the 1500, 3000 and 5000 meter Race Walking events and the Bronze medal in the 50 meter dash. Other highlights of the year included: having a standing long jump of 9 feet 7.25 inches (North Idaho Senior Games), swimming the 25 yard freestyle in 9.99 seconds (Wyoming Senior Winter Games) and running the 50 meter dash in 6.23 seconds (Western Colorado Senior Games).

Since the age of 41, I have won over 600 medals. I still have my Sjogren's disease problems: the lack of saliva, dry eyes, etc., but I know that I can overcome anything. It is never too late to try and win.


I PROMISED HIM I WOULDN'T GIVE UP!

My name is Irma M Lookermans and I have lived in St. George for 26 years.  I love this town.  We have the best climate for health.  I lost my husband 4 weeks before the 2012 World Senior Games.  He was training for his bike ride on the Bloomington trail.  He had a massive heart attack.  His name is Jesse R Corwin.  He had registered for the Road Race through Snow Canyon and the Criterium at the old airport.  Unfortunately, he didn't make it. He was 80 years old.

As for myself, I play tennis.  I always promised I will go on for him.  And I did!  I didn't win a medal but I DIDN'T give up.  While I was playing I broke my foot but I played on, no matter what pain I felt.  I had to do it for HIM.  Thank you.

Irma M Lookerman

P.S He was the Games’ best promoter.  He would always send the entry books to all his friends and family.  He wanted everybody to participate.


MY FIRST SIX YEARS AT THE HUNTSMAN SENIOR GAMES

My first two years of playing softball in the Huntsman Senior Games were as a player for someone else. I decided to start my own 60+ team because I wanted to choose my players for character and ability so we could have a lot of fun in Utah.

I started out trying to get all Oregon players, but most of the guys I asked were already going to Utah with other teams or couldn’t make the trip. So I used the Huntsman World Senior Games website (TeaFinder) to find players which turned out to one of the fun parts of putting a team together.

I contacted players and started a team called the Mittfits. No it’s not the misfits; a lot of people make that mittake.

On my 2012 team I had players from Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Utah and Alberta, Canada. In the past I have had players from Florida, Texas, Montana, Missouri and Michigan. A lot of them went to other teams for different reasons. Some went to 65+ teams, some to higher division teams, some just didn’t like the way I managed, and some I didn’t ask back. No matter what the reason, it is fun to see some of my ex-players each year in October.

I have assembled a great bunch of 60+ year olds. The proof is in what some people have said about the Mittfits. In 2011, after a game one of the players from the other team came over and said that we were the nicest bunch of guys they had played against in a long time. This year one of our umpires after a game said he’d like to umpire all our games. One of the board members at the manager’s meeting told me that he and some of the others think that we have one of the best names for a softball team. As we were getting ready to have our picture taken for winning the silver, somebody from another team told one of my players that we should win the sportsmanship award.

Most of the players from 2011 came back for 2012. I already have 11 of the 14 guys from 2012 saying they want to play again in 2013, so I should have the same great team attitude in 2013.

When I started this team I always said, that win or lose we are in St. George to have fun and winning would make it more fun. Well this year was more fun. We won our first medal (silver medal in the C division) and it truly was even more fun winning. So I believe I am living up to what the Huntsman World Senior Games are all about: having fun, good friendly competition, meeting old friends and making new friends.

Thank you Huntsman World Senior Games for 6 great years, 2 as a player and 4 as a player/manager, and looking forward to spending many more Octobers in your wonderful town.


MY FIRST SIX YEARS AT THE HUNTSMAN SENIOR GAMES

My first two years of playing softball in the Huntsman Senior Games were as a player for someone else. I decided to start my own 60+ team because I wanted to choose my players for character and ability so we could have a lot of fun in Utah.

I started out trying to get all local players from Oregon, but most of the guys I asked were already going to Utah with other teams or couldn’t make the trip. So I used the Huntsman world senior games website (TeamFinder) to find players. It turned out to be one of the fun parts of putting a team together.

I contacted players and started a team called the Mittfits. No it’s not the misfits; a lot of people make that mittake.

On my 2012 team I had players from Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Utah and Alberta, Canada. In the past I have had players from Florida, Texas, Montana, Missouri and Michigan. A lot of them went to other teams for different reasons. Some went to 65+ teams, some to higher division teams, some just didn’t like the way I managed, and some I didn’t ask back. No matter what the reason, it is fun to see some of my ex-players each year in October.

I have assembled a great bunch of 60+ year olds. The proof is in what some people have said about the Mittfits. In 2011, after a game one of the players from the other team came over and said that we were the nicest bunch of guys they had played against in a long time. This year one of our umpires after a game said he’d like to umpire all our games. One of the board members at the managers meeting told me that he and some of the others think that we have one of the best names for a softball team. As we were getting ready to have our picture taken for winning the silver, somebody from another team told one of my players that we should win the sportsmanship award.

Most of the players from 2011 came back for 2012. I already had 11 of the 14 guys from 2012 saying they wanted to play again in 2013, so I had the same great team attitude in 2013. As I said I started a team to have fun and I’ve always said that playing in St. George is fun and winning would make it more fun. Well this year we finally won a medal. We won a silver medal in the C division and it was even more fun winning.

I believe I am living up to what the Huntsman World Senior Games are all about: having fun, good friendly competition, meeting old friends and making new friends. Thank you to the Games for 6 great years, 2 as a player and 4 as a player/manager, and looking forward to spending many more Octobers in your wonderful town.


For the Love of the Game

I just got through watching the movie “For Love of the Game” with Kevin Costner. I want to tell you the story of my husband who also loves the game----baseball/softball. I have been married to him for 56 years and during all of those years he has played baseball for the first two years we were married and then switched to fast pitch softball for about forty years plus. He was the best hitter in the Salt Lake City Metro Softball League for years and was presented the Hall of Fame award. Most of the times he came up to bat he hit home runs. He loved the pressure of having the bases loaded and coming up to bat and hitting a home run/Grand Slam for all of the players on base, including himself to score. I watched this happen very often.

I was always so proud of him. Even before we were married he played all kinds of sports both in Jr. High and in Highschool. He lettered in baseball, basketball and football in his Highschool years. Ball to him was his life. He had a natural ability to excel in all sports. We went to many tournaments during our early years of marriage. When the children came along we took them with us to tournaments. The car we traveled in was always filled with music and laughter. We had many fun family trips. The grownup kids now remember these trips and say it was the most fun they ever had. They were always proud of their Dad and his accomplishments he made in the games.

Later in life as fast pitch softball seemed to die down and we moved to Arizona, he began to play slow pitch softball. Under the pressure of one of his real good friends he surrendered and went out to play slow pitch. Again, he was one of the best hitters.

He had real bad knees and had to have a double knee operation in 2009. It took quite a while for him to get ready to play again but he endured and started playing slow pitch softball again. He was hitting home runs and simply jogged, not ran, to the bases to home plate. Later, as he got older he wasn’t hitting many homeruns but was hitting the ball up to the fence and made it to first base and a runner would run for him the rest of the bases.

Due to a very serious illness of mine, he was unable to finish his knee rehab and this altered his running very much. But, he continued to play and hitting the ball to the fence and only running to first base. He was still enjoying playing. Then this year, his Carotid Artery became clogged in his neck and he had to have surgery to get it cleaned out. The surgery went well but the next day he could not move his left leg, foot or toes.

He had a stroke.

After numerous hospital stays due to other health problems he has, he began in-patient rehab at a hospital. He stayed there for a week and then came home and started outpatient rehab. His goals are to be ready to play ball again. He has worked really hard and still in rehab three times a week. The rehab personnel are trying to get him ready for the Las Vegas World Tournament in early October and then on to the Senior Olympics later in October in St. George, Utah. This Page 2 man is determined to be ready!

His leg is not back to normal yet and he is still limping and using a cane. The determination and goals he has are keeping him focused on getting better so he can “play ball again”. He just turned 74 and this will be his 9th year at the World Senior Games. I thought you might like to hear this story and be aware of what kind of athletes are competing in the Senior Olympics.

I, as his wife of 56 years am very proud of him. Still, we are not sure if he will be able to play ball, but he is giving it a real good try. He wants to get better and return to playing ball for a few more years. He is working very hard to accomplish this.

Noteworthy: In 1996 Larry had a 7-way by-pass on his heart. It is simply a miracle that even though he has conjestive heart disease along with some other serious problems with his body, he has continued to “play ball” throughout his lifetime. I think ball has simply saved his life.

 Yours truly, Betty D. Morgan Wife of Larry E. Morgan, Mesa, AZ


An Advocate for Positive Thinking

My name is Frances Flatau.  In April of 2007, I first heard about the Huntsman World Senior Games. I was playing in the Maryland Eastern Shore Senior Games and someone mentioned it. My tennis doubles partner and I discussed it and thought it might be fun to participate.

In July of that year (before we registered) I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Well - there goes the Huntsman World Senior Games. I had surgery and then 9 months of Chemo and radiation. By April of 2008, I was again playing in the Maryland Eastern Shore Senior Games, with a PICC line in my left arm, when my partner and I began talking about going to St. George again.  When I was declared cancer free in June of 2008, we decided to participate.

This was our celebration of life. I am looking forward to my fifth year at the Games and my five years since my diagnosis. I try to be an advocate of positive thinking in the face of cancer and the importance of keeping up exercise and competition.


My Tennis Story

Journal Entry of Keith Jackson Kunz – Saturday – September 1, 2012 – By Keith Jackson Kunz

About the time I turned eleven, I realized that I enjoyed playing basketball and tennis more than softball or jumping around the block on pogo sticks. I have eight siblings, one older brother, two younger brothers and five younger sisters. I was mom’s smallest baby but ended up the tallest at about 6’ 2”. Mom encouraged us to practice the piano and our other band and orchestra instruments before going out to play.

At first, basketball was more fun than tennis for me. I played basketball for East High in Salt Lake my sophomore and junior years. I was able to make money starting in the 4th grade as a janitor’s helper. As a teenager, I was able to cut lawns to make enough money to pay for my own shoes, music lessons and a few extras like army surplus skiis, a Flexible Flyer sled and a Spalding Poncho Gonzales tennis racquet. I still have the sled and my first tennis racquet. I was 19 years old when that first racquet was last used for quasi--competitive play.

I was a member of the 53rd Army Band at Fort Ord California after my basic National Guard training. Among my few earthly possessions, I had a wood clarinet, a Selmer Bundy tenor sax and my Spalding racquet. A fellow bandsman, Dwight Marchant, was also a tennis player and a good LDS friend.

Army haircuts were $0.25. Tennis balls were about $2.00 for a can of three. I broke the original racquet strings and Dwight put on new ones for me. They were natural gut. I never played enough to wear out more than one Kingwood calf leather grip.

I served a thirty month LDS mission to North Germany. I got married to the most beautiful girl in the world and worked very hard to earn BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Utah. Life comes at you fast. We have seven children, two boys and five girls. The first was born in 1969 and the caboose was born in 1987. I had a successful career as a scientific software developer working for companies like Evans and Sutherland and Hewlett Packard. I was also successful for twenty years as an independent software consultant developing large systems for growing companies like Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake.

About the time I turned thirty, I realized that weight management was going to be a lifelong struggle for me. By the time I turned fifty five (1999), I knew I would have to lose weight or die too young. Tennis became a more important part of my life in about 2002 as I was doing some serious dieting. I joined the Salt Lake Tennis Club. I played several times a week. I played a few tournaments.

Katherine and I have traveled to Hawaii many times. I always take my racquets. My favorite places to play are the Makena Tennis Club and the Kapalua Tennis Gardens on Maui. Over the years, however, I have found that one of the most important aspects of tennis is to find the right partners. I have been most fortunate to have been able to meet some of the finest people in the world through my tennis associations.

I played the Huntsman Senior Games tournament for the eighth time last month. I had to take a break in 2008 because I was involved with arduous chemotherapy for (stage II high risk) colon cancer. In 2010 I had surgery for thyroid cancer and had radioactive iodine therapy. But, I played at the HWSG anyway. For me, it was a significant personal victory just to be able to play.I have learned that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. That year I gave myself the nickname of GammaGuy.

I love tennis because it’s so much like music. Your performance is never quite perfect. But, you get to the point were it can be of benefit to all of those who are near and dear to you. We, at latest count, have twenty grandchildren. I play tennis partly to remind me that every day is a gift. Every friend is something precious, to be cherished and encouraged and supported. I retired from my profession as a software developer in September of 2010. It’s hard to believe that two years have flown by since then. I’m striving to keep a balance in my life between the needs of my children and grandchildren, my wife and the demands of LDS church service. My children call me superman. My tennis partners call me ‘The Rocketman’. My wife calls me irreplaceable. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids when she said it. So, I thought she said, “Your ears are replaceable.” I just finished paying for my fourth set of new hearing aids, however, which are state-of-the-art remote mic devices. Now, I should be able to hear the sound of the ball hitting the sweet spot and the whisper of a let and what my opponents are saying under their breath.

I love the game. I love the people that play it. I love the places it is played. I’ve always loved to solve difficult problems. Tennis gives me what I need, a way to solve problems without sitting at a desk. I love math. Tennis gives my brain an escape hatch where it can compute to the max and not have negative health side effects. I love to be able to play to the best of my ability.


My Daughter is My Inspiration

Hello to everyone and welcome to St. George for another year at the Huntsman Senior Games! My name is Rhonda Bigelow and it is my first time to participate as an Athlete in the Huntsman Senior Games but my second in participating as one of the Event Sponsors! My story is about Nicole, my oldest daughter of my 5 children.

Nicole was 9 months old when diagnosed with Neuroblostoma Stage 4 cancer. She is now 29 years old and a fit survivor of this deadly disease. I was 21 when she was diagnosed and for 4 1/2 years she endured radiation and chemotherapy. She endured treatment of several different experimental drugs and we watched her successfully battle blood infections several different times, almost losing her to two of them. As her mother I stayed positive for her and our family as we knew we may not win. God had a plan for her and a plan for both of us. Doctors pronounced her clean of the cancer at the age of 9 1/2. After a 5 year wait and repeated doctor visits to assure she was doing well, she was cured.

Through all this I ran.  I ran to keep in shape, to help with stress relief and for confidence. The confidence I needed to know I was strong and like my young daughter, a survivor. I ran 2 to 3 miles a day then entered my first 5k and placed 2nd for my age group at 25! I ran and entered more and did well for my age. Nothing spectacular, but for me it was always winning. My 4 kids often rode along with their bikes pacing and urging me on! Nicole was always there, riding with me in the early morning before school. Then we rode bikes together and continued the fitness regime. That, I believe, is what inspired Nicole, who now inspires me. She started running several years ago and a few years ago started training for herself, then enterd her first Marathon, the Phoenix Marathon.

For her first race she finished in 5 hours and 20 minutes! How awesome after beating Neuorblostoma Stage 4 at 9 months of age and now at 29 completing her first Marathon! She has continued to compete and complete the "Mt. Hood to Coast" twice, the Vancouver Tri, The Eugene Tri, and many 10k and a few 5 k's. She will be coming from Portland, Oregon to compete in the St. George Marathon this year!

I am so proud of her as she runs to raise money for the American Cancer Society and a cure. My story is that she has inspired me. I have battled a herniated disk in my neck for the past few years due to horse riding injury and wanted so bad to run again. With chiropractor care, I am now running.

My husband Paul encouraged me to sign up for the World Senior Games to race and I did. My daughter Nicole after the St. George Marathon on Oct 6th, stayed and cheered me on to the finish in the 10K on Oct 8th as she did when she was younger.  Afterward she flew back to Portland.  It's amazing that now, 21 years later, I ran for her as I did when I was 21 and she ran the race of her life and is now a rare cancer survivor.

Rhonda Bigelow, Texas Roadhouse


I Thought My Playing Days Were Over

My name is Jim Rockstad.  In 2005 I had a shoulder that was bone-to-bone and looked like I would have to give up racquetball--which I have played since 1974.

I was in a traffic accident in '91 which caused a trauma in my shoulder requiring surgery. I met up with Doctor Frederick Matsen at the University of Washington and said, "My goal is to play racquetball into my 70's". He had a new approach to fixing my shoulder which he called "Ream and Run". Instead of the plastic socket that was used normally he reams out the shoulder bone to accept the arm bone (with a chromium cap) and the body develops its' own cartilage over time.  It sounded weird to me but I had no other choice.

He installed the replacement shoulder and I was hitting a racquetball in two months (with ice) and then playing the game in 5 months (although I was very weak).

Now, here I am playing racquetball better than I ever have (won a silver medal several years ago in St George and recently won a gold medal at the Washington State Senior Games in doubles 65-69). Additionally, I play racquetball 3 days a week for 6-7 hours and the shoulder is wonderful.

I have entered to return to St. George in October for my 7th time. I have consulted with over 30 patients for Dr. Matsen to tell them my story.  Can't wait to compete again.  

Thanks----see you soon,

Jim Rockstad


I CAN DO IT!

Polio is a disease that in the US is rarely heard of these days.  But back when I was young it was a killer. Fortunately, when it struck me at age 3 1/2, it was a relatively light case. I had an extremely high fever for days and when it was over I was left with damage to my left side.

My mother had been told that I would possibly never be able to walk well and I remember wearing special shoes. But as my mother always told people, "Pulleeeeze, don't tell Karen she can't do something because that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. She WILL do it."

I was always a 'Tom Boy' and have been playing softball since I was about 8 in the Cleveland, Ohio playground system. I've been the only woman in some men's leagues, played on the local pub league in Buffalo, New York, for years and currently am the catcher for the 70+ Freedom Spirit of FL team.

While my left leg is shorter than the right, the foot almost 1 1/2 sizes smaller than the other and my back has a slight curve I am so lucky to be walking, running and still playing. I even hit a home run in a recent tournament and ran all the bases, albeit with a limp but "I DID IT"!!!

Thank You for making these games possible. You always do a wonderful job.

Karen Campbell


THE GAMES INSPIRE ME

A friend who had been competing in Basketball at the Huntsman World Senior Games for years told me that they had Racewalking and urged me to come. That was in 2009. I gave it a try and was glad I did.

I've competed three times now. Each time I compete in the three Racewalking events: 1500M, 3000M, and 5000M. I have really enjoyed the competition. Knowing I plan to come again next year keeps me working out all year long.

In 2010 I also tried the High Jump and the 800M run. I barely cleared 4'3", which is quite embarrassing since I'm 6'6" and should be able to fall over 5'0". I was dead last in the 800M too, but I did break 3 min 50 seconds and I was only 100 meters out of next to last. This year I plan to high jump again.  I just turned 60 and I saw that last year M60-64 was won with a jump of 3'11" or so. Maybe I can get my first gold. Hah.

I've met many wonderful people at the Games. It inspires me to meet people who are over 60 or 70 or 80 and yet who are youthful in their outlook and still quite active.

Bob Wilkin


THE GAMES GAVE ME HOPE

My name is Cesar Jimenez and I played Softball at the Huntsman World Senior Games last year for the first time.  By itself, not that unique.  However, I am battling cancer.

I had my chemotherapy treatment just one day before getting to Utah.  I arrived a little sluggish as is usual after the "CHEMO".  A couple of my teammates knew what I was going through and they encouraged me, cheering me on.  When I went to check-in and met such nice people who welcomed me in a manner that made me feel at home, I became more relaxed and less worried about my feelings.  

The thrill I felt when I marched with all of those other brave athletes in the Opening Ceremonies was just amazing.  I felt so good out in St. George, Utah, that I actually cried one night.  I did experience nausea and vomiting BUT that was nothing compared to the better feeling of competition and the feeling of being welcomed.  

The restaurants and other businesses in St. George were also very friendly and that made my stay even better.  

The best award that I received was the reward of being surrounded by athletes from all over the world and having them say to ME that I was a good player.  For those that I shared my Cancer story with and they shared some of their own life struggles with me was also very touching.  

As a Chaplain I have been trained to give others HOPE but I must say that because of the Huntsman World Senior Games and the great people involved in it, I was the one that experienced HOPE, a HOPE of getting Cancer FREE soon. The fact that I am still alive and writing this is the best story that I could ever write.

God Bless you all.

Chaplain Cesar Jimenez


HIGH QUALITY OF LIFE THANKS TO SPORTS

My name is Craig Davis. In 1986 at the age of 45 I went into my doctor for a physical exam. I was busy in my career and found little time for fitness. My blood tests showed a cholesterol of 586 and my triglycerides were 1500. An EKG showed coronary blockage. My doctor told me I was on a path to an early grave if I didn't make some serious lifestyle changes.

I started cycling and changing my diet. Cholesterol drugs were limited at that time. I started training for senior games cycling events. This year will be my 20th Huntsman World Senior Games. I have competed in 8 different sports and won medals in all of them. My health is great and my cholesterl and EKG are normal. At age 70 I owe my high quality of life to sports and fitness.


HOW THE HUNTSMAN WORLD SENIOR GAMES AND SOFTBALL SAVED MY LIFE

My name is Alexx Stuart and sports have always been my life. Beyond participating in everything, I had been an athletic director, a sportswriter, and, currently, a playwright known for sports oriented plays.

I thought I was in great physical condition, having walked at least 3 miles a day every day for the previous 4 years. I played racquetball 

every Monday and participated in 150-200 senior softball games per year for the last decade. Being in such superb condition, I wasn't too worried about health insurance. I was covered by the Dramatists' Guild Policy, but that didn't amount to much: basically, the best they could do was if you lost a leg, they'd help you look for it. So when I got to the 2011 Huntsman Games, my first ever, playing with the Rockies (Phoenix) Over 60 softball team, I thought I'd take advantage of the Games' free health screening.

Health Screenings

On the day of the championship game which we'd be playing in later that afternoon, I blasted through all the prodding and poking stations with nary a problem ... that is, until I came to the bood sugar test. The young woman doing my blood test looked at her glucose meter and decided it must be broken. It had registered 580. A reading should be under 150. Mine was a recording the likes of which they had never seen before. After an additional test an hour later of 586, a consulting doctor was called over.

She said, rather urgently, that I needed to go to the emergency room ... NOW! She couldn't understand why I wasn't in a coma. However, I felt fine. Having a typical male softball brain, I informed her that I had a championship game to play, that I wasn't going to let my teammates down, and that I wasn't going anywhere but to the fields.

I guess I showed her.

Battling the Hippocratic Oath and all wasn't easy. We finally agreed that I would go to the E.R. the next day when I returned to Phoenix. Long story short (I know, that ship has already sailed), I was diagnosed with diabetes on Oct. 8. The dominoes began falling: the E.R. sent me to a diabetes doctor who heard a heart murmur; she sent me to a cardiologist who found blockage in three arteries to my heart; and he sent me to a heart surgeon. On January 10, 2012, I had triple bypass heart surgery. My surgeon said I had been a ticking bomb waiting to go off, and if I hadn't been given some indication of some problem at the Huntsman Games, I might not be here today to tell you my story.

At present, my health is fine: my diet now does not include any hot fudge sundaes or mashed potatoes and I've said my good-byes to Dairy Queen and Baskin Robbins. On April 19, I was finally allowed back on the softball fields after 5 months off. And, I'm happy to say I'll be seeing you all at the Huntsman Games this October, a wiser and much thinner man.


Hello, My name is Barry Meisel from Spain. I have won previous gold medals at the Huntsmans Senior Games. please see my story in the link below. Thank you. http://www.euroweeklynews.com/news/costa-del-sol/86553-retired-ex-pat-heading-to-vegas-senior-olympics


First Time Bowler

Hi everyone.

I live in Portland, Oregon. Last year, 2011, when my husband, a 200+ scratch bowler decided to enter the Huntsman Senior World Games for the first time in the Bowling competition. I was eager to support him and looked forward to the trip.

I had no intention of entering the competition with my meager average. Jack's been the accomplished bowler in the family, hitting 803 last year in league play. He's also rolled multiple 300 games. However, since during many of our 55 years of marriage we had bowled together on a team, I decided to take the plunge and sign up too.

I considered my role as "supporter."

"Besides," I told myself, "No one knows me. I can be nearly invisible, no matter how I bowl."

On the morning of Bowling-Singles, we ate at one of St. George's many wonderful restaurants. I wanted to keep my salt intake down so I could get my fingers into the ball. I ordered . . . "Wheaties, The Breakfast of Champions."

God smiled at that!

He allowed me to qualify.

I continued to eat the Wheaties each day, and went beyond qualifying to earning a Gold Medal! I also qualified in Handicap Doubles with my husband, and we earned a bronze medal in that competition.

By the way, aside from the magic of "Wheaties" and the "Breakfast of Champions" partnership with GOD, there was no way to be invisible among a fantastic group of competitors that cared about everyone. Even me.

Jack and I met many outstanding people, event coordinators, and especially, the fine waitresses at all the restaurants. (In particular, the mornings at the Cracker Barrel) We are looking forward to a return trip.

With best wishes for another successful World event, I remain,

Shirley Hawe


From Israel to St. George to play Table TennisFrom Israel to St. George to play Table tennis?!

I started playing table tennis in my country, Israel, when I was a kid. I was good in all sports but my father directed me towards Table Tennis because one of his brothers who was killed in WW2 as a soldier in the Red Army was one of the best players in Poland. When I was 16 years old I played in the Israeli first division. My first coach was Giora Senesh, a former Hungarian player who came to Israel and was a member of the Israeli National Team. Giora is (88 years old, God bless him) the brother of the famous Hanna Senesh, a 16 year old Jewish girl who made it to Israel during the Nazi time and went back, parachuting into occupied Hungary to save Jews. She was captured by the Nazis and executed. Giora told me when I was 14 years old: in order to play table tennis you need three things: first, you need to position your body; I'll teach you how to do that, second, you need to learn the technique of the strokes; I'll teach you to do that also, and third, you need to play when your body is on one side of the table and your mind is on the other side; this you need to figure out by yourself...

At the age of 18 in Israel we go to the army for a few years. That resulted for me in a 10 year break in Table Tennis. When I got back, in the mid 80's, it was not the same game. Anti-spin and other funny rubbers were already in use, the importance of serves boosted and in Israel another thing happened: the old generation, mainly players who came from Europe after WW2 became coaches and a new generation of modern, fast attacking players were controlling our sport. By that time I was already a manager in the Israeli Ports Authority, married and a father, so I decided to make this my hobby.

Twenty-five years have now gone by.  In these years I have played in 3 different clubs. My current club in Israel, Maccabbi Zichron Jacob, is one of the most active clubs in Israel. We have about 50 kids, some of them very good and about 25 adults some of them excellent players who would be rated over 2000 in the US.

My wife and I have family in California and in Florida so sometimes we come to visit them.  My work also takes me from time to time to the States so I started to play in the US whenever I get the chance. I played in the US OPEN, in the California OPEN and I played three times in the Baltimore team event (great fun!).

This year I found out that I will not be able to make it to Baltimore so I started looking for another tournament I can enjoy and I came across the Huntsman World Senior Games. Soon enough I remembered that my wife and I have already visited St. George Utah in 1979 while we were on a trip in the US before we got married. At that time it was on our way to tour Zion and Bryce. I must admit it was not difficult to convince my wife to take this trip, one week with the family in California before the games and a few days in Vegas after and the decision was made.

More than that, I even managed to convince a colleague from my club in Israel, Yair Porges to join us in St. George. Ok, so I figured: I will take 2 single events (age and rating) 1 double event with my friend Yair and I will look for a lady to partner with me for the mixed doubles. I put my name on the partner finder and soon enough I found a partner: Gloria Cadavid from San Antonio Texas, so I am ready to go.

Table Tennis

Now the adventure begins: we spent a great week in California, a few days in LA and a trip to wineries of Temecula Valley (beautiful!), a few hours' drive and we are in St. George. Well, nothing like we remembered! It is a big town now, checked into the hotel and went to meet my partners, Yair my friend from Israel who came directly here, and Gloria whom I met for the first time. Gloria came with her 2 sisters who live in Colombia; fortunately my wife was born in Cuba so the Spanish ruled the conversations (Yair and I understood very little.....). 

The competition proved to be great fun. The atmosphere was excellent, very friendly (do not get confused, each and every player fought to the last point), ran smoothly by the professional staff and the charming volunteers, the venue was ok (there were some lighting issues, the barriers between the tables were not friendly and the floor a bit slippery) but the competition was great. Personally I made it into the semi-finals in the 2 individual events I participated, losing in both semi's and fighting twice for the bronze, losing one (the age event 55-59 to Moses Lan) and winning the bronze in the rating event (1600-1799 over George Taplin).  

In the mixed doubles, Gloria and I made it to the final of the 50-54 group, after 2 matches we won 3:2 after being 0:2 down in both!, we lost the final 3:1 to Francisco and Sandra Mendez and won Silver. The medal ceremony was nice and the goodbyes were exciting, so after that we felt we earned a nice Vegas vacation.

So I was not the best player in the Huntsman Games but I surely made the longest way getting there...if I can handle the high resources necessary for me to come here again, I will definitely do so.