Basketball: Ira Glick, M.D.
Sports psychiatrist is an avid athlete
Most athletes have heard of sports psychology, which seeks to enhance an athlete’s performance through techniques such as visualization,” self-talk,” and relaxation. Less familiar is the field of sports psychiatry, which treats mental illness, such as depression, substance abuse and eating disorders, in athletes.
Ira Glick, M.D, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University Medical Center, notes that the field of sports psychiatry has emerged over the past 20 years, as the sports industry has come realize that “diseases of the brain, not just diseases of the body [of athletes] need to be treated.”
Like psychotherapists, psychiatrists can use talk therapy to help athletes; but as physicians, they can also prescribe medications (or both) when needed and appropriate.
The professor, who has lectured on and written about sports psychiatry and consulted for NBA and NFL players, says another differentiator between sports psychology and psychiatry is that improving performance is not the primary goal of treating the athlete’s disorder, but may be a welcome byproduct.
“For the NFL, I am doing evaluations of diagnosis and treatment of ADD. There is a very low incidence of this illness, but the league is very careful. I’m treating the disorder to make the athletes’ life better so they can concentrate in and out of the locker room. And yes, the better they can concentrate and focus, the better they can play,” he said.
Athletes do not have a higher prevalence of psychiatric illnesses than the general population, according to Dr. Glick. “In fact, when you get to the higher levels of sports, there are actually lower rates. You aren’t going to be a great soccer player or baseball player if you have schizophrenia,” he pointed out.
Mental illnesses can play havoc with a player’s career, given that mental focus and function is inextricably linked with physical performance, and ultimately athletic success. For sports franchises, a star’s inability to overcome a psychiatric disorder could prove costly. “There was one athlete who had bipolar disorder and didn’t want to take his medicine. So they put it into his contract that ‘we’re not paying you unless you take your lithium.”
Dr. Glick is a long-time athlete, having played basketball nonstop since the age of 13. “I’ve never taken a break, not through high school, college, medical school, studying abroad, Fulbright awards, or Rockefeller Foundation grants. I always find a game wherever I am, whether it’s in China, Burma, Italy or the playgrounds of Brooklyn.”
Even at 81, Dr. Glick continues to play basketball two to three times a week and tennis two to three times a week. He has also competed in the 2013 and 2016 Sonoma Wine Country Games as a member of the NorCal Sharks team.
“I have had a very strong bond [with my teammates] in terms of competing in these senior tournaments. These are guys who I didn’t know initially, but we came together and now have wonderful long-term relationships.”
Dr. Glick’s athleticism has influenced his career choices, and his study of sports psychiatry has also shaped his competitive career. “In basketball, the central issue isn’t just about putting the ball into the hoop. Working as a team and trying to make others better is what I do both on the court and with my research and educational teams in academia.”
Track and Field: Paul Troppy
A man who likes to throw his weights around
The throwing events held at Scottish Highland-type gatherings are not for the faint of heart or slight of build. With contests like the caber toss—where competitors try to flip a 20-foot long, 175-pound pole end over end— competitors must be extraordinarily strong.
Paul Troppy, a Scottish Games competitor from 2001 through 2009, said the athletes are required to compete in all eight throwing events, a trial of both their strength and endurance.
“They didn’t let you just throw in one event. So in the bigger games, you would end up throwing roughly two tons of weight [over the course of six to eight hours].”
A long-time discus thrower and shot-putter, Troppy had a sturdy frame before embarking on his adventures in Scottish throwing, but found he needed to pack on additional pounds of muscle to compensate for the rigors of hurling heavier weights.
“One of the weights we get to throw is a 56-pound hunk of steel, so I had to put weight on my frame,” said Troppy. “As soon as you start spinning these heavier implements, you have to counterweight them as the centrifugal force moves around you,” he explained.
The year he left the Scottish Games circuit—2009—Troppy was ranked 9th in North America in the throwing events.
Troppy’s interest in tossing around large “implements” began when he was 13 (he’s now 52). As a young athlete he set long-standing records in the discus and shot put at the junior high, high school, and college level, then went on to start coaching at Montgomery High School in 1985. His coaching career spans 28 years and also encompasses stints at Rancho Cotate High School and Santa Rosa High School, where he continues to coach.
Troppy, a painting contractor by trade, found his own athletic endeavors cut short when he suffered a freak accident at age 46. While he was cutting up a tree, a piece of wood hit the side of his right knee. “A couple of weeks later, I couldn’t walk,” Troppy recalled. “The only thing that kept my knee from totally ripping apart is that it was so strong.”
In 2014, Troppy underwent a total knee replacement because at that point the joint was “basically bone on bone.” His physician finally released him to train and compete again in 2016.
Freed up to again participate in his beloved events, Troppy competed in the 2016 Sonoma Wine Country Games. “I hadn’t picked up a discus or a shot put and really tried to throw it for seven years. And I placed second in the shot and the discus,” Troppy said.
He has served as head judge for the throwing events at the Games for four years. Initially the Games’ track and field competition was held at Healdsburg High School, but Troppy was instrumental in helping move the events to Santa Rosa High School, where he coaches.
Troppy is particularly proud of the new discus ring at the high school, engineered and constructed to ensure the accuracy of distance measuring, especially at the longer distances. Because of the field’s upward slope, “We had to actually raise the ring 11.5 inches above ground to make it more accurate for the elite thrower,” Troppy said.
He’s anticipating that the quality of the ring will help attract high-level athletes. “So when we get these big throwers, we can set national records. We have one man who is 53 who is going to try and break Al Oerter’s 50-year class record that’s been on the books for 30 years.”
Volleyball: Alec Schure
Bonding over sport
They say the family who plays together stays together. For Alec Schure, it is more than a platitude. Involvement in the sport of volleyball has helped him bond deeply with both family members and friends over a shared interest.
Little did Schure know that when he started playing volleyball casually in college at pick-up games organized by a professor, it would evolve into a life-long passion and create opportunities to make life-long friends, meet his wife, and coach his daughter in his beloved sport.
When Schure, as a young attorney in Costa Mesa, decided to take a volleyball course at a local junior college, his interest and skill in the sport flourished. “I had already been playing for a number of years, but that’s where I learned how to play the sport right. I took the same class four semesters in a row,” he explained. It wasn’t long before he extended his play to other surfaces, including sand and grass.
After two years in Costa Mesa, Schure returned to his native Northern California, and settled in San Jose. Friendships that developed there through volleyball led to meeting his now-best friend Darryl (who became his grass doubles tournament partner), and his wife Litty.
“She’s got a longer volleyball history than I do. She grew up in Pacific Palisades, which is a hotbed of sand volleyball. In her youth, she played with many people who later became beach pro’s or played in collegiate leagues.”
Ultimately, the couple had two children, including a daughter Alexa. “I got into coaching when my daughter started playing at age 10, and coached the teams she was on for six years,” Schure recalled. “That was a very nice experience because I felt I could offer a lot to youth trying to learn the sport, and I got to spend a lot of quality time with my daughter at practices and tournaments.” Alexa now is a starter for a club team while attending Cal Poly.
Schure’s son Aaron also played volleyball, beginning in junior high school and continuing as a freshman and sophomore on the junior varsity team in high school. “As far as I know, he’s also going out for the varsity team in the spring, too,” said Schure.
Last year, when Aaron turned 16, he became Schure’s assistant coach for a team he coached through the Stingray Volleyball Club.
Schure has continued to play grass volleyball at the Stanford Oval, a patch of grass in the heart of Stanford University, for 2o years. “There have been a couple of times my entire family has gone up and played with this group of grizzled volleyball veterans and they definitely hold their own,” said Schure.
When Schure turned 50, he joined an over-50 team that came to be known as the “Wrecking Balls.” The 2015 Sonoma Wine Country Games was one of the first tournaments they played in. “We’ve done local tournaments for the past two years, and we’ve also gone to Utah for the Huntsman Games,” said Schure.
Schure is glad to have the opportunity to continue pursuing an activity that has had such a profound impact on his life. “In terms of social connections, it’s really been everything,” muses Schure. “Over the years, my entire circle of friends [has been made up of] volleyball players or people I know through other volleyball players. And if you take it to the next step, you could say that if I didn’t play volleyball, I wouldn’t have this wife and these kids.”
Table Tennis: Char Barron
The Benefits of Remaining Active
Studies show physical activity releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers), reduces stress, gives you energy and boosts your confidence—in other words, it makes you happier.
Char Barron has long known the benefits of athletic activity. After she had to give up a long-time favorite sport, she found another athletic endeavor that tickled her competitive fancy: table tennis. She took up the sport about seven or eight years ago when she saw a note in the Sebastopol Senior Center’s newsletter about the center offering table tennis.
“I went there and met the greatest group of people,” said Barron. “Everybody was having fun whether they won or lost. So I really got hooked.”
It wasn’t the first time Barron has been passionate about a sport. She played on softball teams as a child and as an adult on both women’s and co-ed teams. She also coached the girl’s softball team at El Molino High School for 11 years and cheered on all four of her sons when they participated in Little League and her daughter when she competed in Bobby Sox.
Eventually, however, pain in Barron’s back (not necessarily as a result of the sport) ended her softball career. “It just seemed that it was time to stop. it’s still probably my number one love of any sport. So I’m still very much a spectator and enjoy going to Giants’ games.”
Fortunately, Barron found a new challenge to fill at least part of the void. “I think table tennis is something that a person can participate in and enjoy without the wear and tear on the body for a very long time. And you can get as serious-—or as non-serious—-as you want.”
And then along came an opportunity to play in the Sonoma Wine Country Games, a series of competitions in more than 16 sports for athletes over 50. “A few of us talked and said ‘let’s do this and team up.’ I found participating in the Games was fun too, and met people from out of the area. And it really does put more of a competitive edge to it.”
In the 2016 Games, Barron and her partner Tricia Hoffman took gold in the women’s doubles, 65 to 60 category, and in mixed doubles, Barron and her partner, John Metras, earned a silver in the 60 to 64 category.
“I didn’t play in singles. I was hesitant to sign up for all three,” said Barron. “But that may change next year!”
Cycling: Roy Johnston
Embracing a New Sport
After jogging for years, Johnston started having hip pain, and consulted his doctor, who advised him to stop running and instead take up cycling or swimming, two sports that produce less impact on the joints.
Cycling became the door that opened. And it just kept opening wider. “I took up cycling, but I wasn’t really training for any particular event. And then about spring of last year , I somehow heard of the Sonoma Wine Country Games and I thought this would be a great way for me to have something to train for.”
So he signed up to compete in the 2015 Games, training moderately, but “not extensively or proactively.” Johnston admits he wasn’t prepared for the level of competition he encountered.
“When I got there, I had my hybrid bike and no clip-ons, and I’m walking by experienced elderly ladies and gentlemen who had vans all decked out with multiple bicycles and repair equipment. So I was immediately nervous but decided to give it a go, and I was glad I did.”
Johnston rode in the 32-mile distance event, and found that the cyclists didn’t just have great equipment; they had skills. “I am 66 years old, so I’m no spring chicken. But I go there, and there are like, 85-year-olds who are kicking my ‘hiney.’ I saw the rear of their bikes the whole time.”
Even though he “came in dead last,” the cyclist enjoyed the course, and the warm reception he received from fellow racers. “I had such a great time that I resolved to enter again this year, and in fact became part of the steering committee.”
Since last year’s race, Johnston’s stepped up his training to the degree he can while still working full time as an attorney specializing in estate planning, elder, business, and real estate law. “I’m doing 45 minutes on the trainer every morning and trying to get in weekend rides as much as possible. I hope to improve on my time a little bit this year.”
He’s also acquired a road bike, cycling shoes and clip-ons. “So I’m going to look really cool this year, although, one of my excuses—not having the right gear—is going to be out the window,” Johnston jokes.
Basketball: Bob Leonard
A long-time basketball player himself, Bob Leonard takes his role as commissioner for the Sonoma Wine Country Games’ men’s basketball tournament seriously, but with a sense of humor as well.
For the past five Games, he has played in the tournament with a team called “The Over the Hill Gang,” comprised of players from age 63 to 67. “One year, as commissioner, I had to put our team in the 55 to 60 bracket because there weren’t enough teams in the younger category. I still hear about that from the team members, and I promised I would never do that again,” he said with a chuckle. “But they still keep coming back year after year to participate,” Leonard added.
Figuring out the schedule for the tournament is somewhat of an art form as Leonard determines who plays whom and when. “You want to set up the games in a way that makes the different divisions competitive and everybody walks away feeling as if they got to play a lot of basketball,” explained Leonard.
His duties as commissioner have also included recruiting knowledgeable volunteers (a task shared by his wife Michele, who is Director of Volunteers for Council on Aging), securing scorers, and arranging for referees—as well as getting the word out to potential participants.
“I’ve been down to other senior games to hand out flyers, and I’ve gone out to different places in Sonoma County that have adult leagues and places where guys are playing on weekends.”
Leonard’s passion for basketball prompted him also to lead, on a volunteer basis, the Santa Rosa Diocese’s Catholic Youth Organization Basketball Program, the largest youth basketball program in the North Bay, for approximately 10 years. The program serves boys and girls from third through eighth grade.
Leonard himself plays twice a week with friends at Cloverdale High School. “The high school is kind enough to let our small group of guys go in and play,” Leonard said. He plays for about an hour, starting at 6 am, before heading off for his job as vineyard compliance manager for Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery.
Leonard, like the players in the SWCG tournament, plays three-on-three, half-court games while scrimmaging with his buddies, a format that is a bit less strenuous than a full-court game, but still packed with fast-paced action.
After five stints as the men’s basketball commissioner, Leonard continues to be impressed with the quality of the play that happens at the SWCG basketball tournaments. “A lot of these players play all over the country,” he noted. “So when you get feedback from them that it’s one of the best-run tournaments and they look forward to coming back, it makes you feel good.”
Swimming: Ilene Reeves
A Recreational Swimmer Dives into Competition
Not all athletes who compete in the Sonoma Wine Country Games are seasoned competitors. Ilene Reeve, a recreational swimmer for several years, decided last year to “up her game” and train for competition at the 2015 Games.
“Because I was turning 60, I decided to throw a challenge my way. I had a friend who had entered the senior games a few years ago, and I thought ‘well if she could do it, I can do it,’” said Reeve. “So I hired a coach and gave myself several months to work up to it.”
Reeve found a coach who taught a master class in swimming at the Santa Rosa Junior College and worked with her once a week to learn the techniques needed for competition. “I’m a competent swimmer,” noted Reeve. “So I could swim distance, but I never went for speed, never jumped off the block, never did a flip turn. So that was all part of the challenge for me.”
Reeve practiced the techniques diligently during her 6 am lap swims at the YMCA. A full- time dental practice manager in Santa Rosa, she had established a pattern of swimming before work.
When the day of the Games swim competition arrived at the Quinn Swim Center at the SRJC, she “showed up kind of shaking in my bathing suit,” but quickly gained confidence by winning three gold medals, in the 25, 50 and 200 meter freestyle events for the women’s 55 to 59 age group. “But the actual win was that I put myself out on a limb to do something I had never done before,” Reeve concluded.
Reeve experienced an even greater win earlier in her life by recovering from a severe case of chronic fatigue syndrome that affected her in 1998, 1999 and 2000. “When I had chronic fatigue, I couIdn’t work and was on disability,” said Reeve. “It took years for me to feel like a fully functioning person. I just kept pushing.”
A key part of her recovery has been exercise, including swimming and swing dancing. “I’m primarily a lindy hop dancer; my husband is a west coast swing dancer, and we meet somewhere in the middle and make it work,” Reeve said with a laugh.
She enjoys the social and intergenerational aspects of swing dancing. ”You can go anywhere and meet people of all ages. In one evening, I could dance with a 16-year-old or I can dance with an 80-year-old and it doesn’t matter.”
Reeve found her experience at the Games similarly rewarding. “I never thought I would compete. But I found the experience was very warm and inviting. It’s the camaraderie. You don’t even know one another and you are rooting for each other.”
Introducing a New, Action-packed Sport
It’s been Bob Schmidt’s sport for 37 years. At 70, he plays regularly with a group of men at Parkpoint Health Club, which will host the handball tournament at the 2016 Sonoma Wine Country Games.
Handball is highly popular in Europe, but a bit more obscure in the United States. As a frame of reference, you can think of handball as similar to racquetball. “It’s almost the same game,” says Bob, “except we use our hands and [racquet ball players] use a racquet. And the ball we use is a little bit smaller, and much, much harder.”
Like racquetball, indoor handball courts have four walls, all of which can be used to rebound the ball. “When you serve the ball, you have to hit the front wall on the fly, first. And then it can go anywhere in the court, but it has to be returned by the opposition before it bounces twice,” Bob explains.
Although handball play doesn’t move quite as fast as in racquetball, “We have a tendency to get a better workout because the rallies are much longer,” he says. Bob reports that it’s such a great conditioning sport, that the astronaut program has incorporated it into the astronauts’ fitness regime.
Strategy comes into the game with anticipation of where the ball will appear next. “People who have been playing for a while know where the ball is going to end up. So instead of chasing the ball, you’re pretty much running to where it’s going to end up, just based on geometry,” says Bob.
Playing doubles increases the complexity of the strategy. “I’m a right-side player. And the guy that plays on the right hand has to make decisions really quick as to whether he should cut the ball off and hit it or let it go because it’s going to end up a better shot for the guy who plays the left.”
All things considered, it takes a while to develop and hone the skills required for competitive handball. The shared experience of having worked so hard to attain that level of competency creates a camaraderie among the players, who appreciate the amount of work required to learn the sport. “All of us handball guys have paid our dues. So we all appreciate that about each other,” Bob notes.
Swimming: Carol and Tom Maloney
A 500-Mile Walk to Remember
What did you do during your last vacation? Chances are it’s not quite as adventurous as Carolyn and Tom Maloney’s last outing: a 500 mile-trek along The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a route traversed by Christian pilgrims across north-west Spain for centuries.
The Maloneys, who have participated in the Sonoma Wine Country Games, decided to spend seven weeks—August 28 to October 13, 2015—walking 10 to 12 miles per day along the historic path, which ends at the cathedral containing the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the town of Santiago.
Certainly, covering that distance on foot is an accomplishment for anyone, but considering that Tom and Carolyn are 79 and 76 respectively, the amount of territory covered becomes all the more admirable.
“We were a great deal older than most people we met on The Camino,” said Tom.
“When we started out,” says Carolyn, “we questioned whether we had the physical wherewithal to do this.”
The couple aspired to make the walk because of its spiritual meaning. “We’re both Catholics, so we try to become involved in a lot of things that are faith-oriented,” explains Carolyn.
More than 240,000 visitors now travel to the cathedral containing the shrine each year. Not all make the trip for religious reasons; some just enjoy the physical challenge.
Given the magnitude of the journey and the rigors of daily hiking through different types of terrain and weather, the experience for the Maloneys became a test also of endurance and determination.
Tom says, “I think the most memorable day was up on the summit [near the city of O’cebreiro—about 10 days out of Santiago] when the wind blew about 40 miles an hour and it rained in our faces all day long. We had an itinerary and we had to stay with the itinerary, so we walked in inclement weather as well as good weather.”
The route taken by the Maloneys—the “French Camino”—starts in the Pyrenees mountain range, which forms a natural border between southern France and northern Spain. The couple started their walk in France, climbed over the Pyrenees and then crossed over the border into Spain. Throughout the route, they passed through picturesque villages and met fellow travelers from all over the world.
The couple prepared for the trek by walking eight to 10 miles three times a week for nearly eight months. Carolyn, a swimmer, competed in the 2015 Sonoma Wine Country Games, so she had been training for that as well. She has participated since the Games began in 2011, and both Carolyn and Tom have also served as commissioners for the square dancing event at the Games.
Along the way, Carolyn was delighted to come upon a fellow “pilgrim” wearing a brightly colored t-shirt with “ Iowa Senior Games” written on it. Carolyn says, “I thought, boy, that’s an open invitation for me. So I walked up to him and talked to him and invited him to come and join our Games out here.”
Completing the 500 mile journey left Tom and Carolyn tired but feeling triumphant. Concludes Tom: “Overall, one of the satisfying things was the realization that, at age 79, if you train and you pick distances within your capabilities, your ability to undertake and complete endurance activities is still there.”
Track & Field: Jim Backstrand
Jim Backstrand Returns to Competing After 55 Years
A dramatic photo of Jim Backstrand, who holds the American record in the javelin throw for his age group (75 – 79), will be featured on postcards promoting the 2016 Sonoma Wine Country Games.
Surprisingly, Backstrand, a competitive javelin thrower while attending college at Stanford University who now lives in Portland, did not pick the sport up again until 55 years later, at age 72. He happened to see an article in the local paper about Gary Stenlund, a former Olympian and a world-record holder, who has just two years younger than Backstrand.
Inspired, Backstrand got in touch with Stenlund and was introduced to Stelund’s friend as well—Gary Reddaway. Reddaway was a former javelin coach at Clackamas Community College. Since then, Backstrand has been practicing every Sunday with the two friends, and receiving coaching from Reddaway.
As Backstrand got back into javelin throwing, the biggest challenge has been to learn proper technique. “The first thing the coach told me at Stanford was that neither he nor his assistant coach knew anything about throwing the javelin. As a result, I never really learned how to throw properly. So that’s what I’m currently trying to do. It’s a very technical event,” says Backstrand.
He has progressed rapidly, however, mastering the technique enough to have ranked number one in the world for three years in a row since he started competing.
Backstrand competed in the javelin at the 2015 Sonoma Wine Country Games (and of course won). He stayed with his son in Palo Alto and his daughter in Mill Valley for several weeks, and found three other meets to compete in while he was in the area. “I am always looking for more games to compete in, and it just makes it convenient that I can come down there and compete as well as see my kids and grandkids,” says Backstrand.
As a senior athlete at the top of his game, Backstrand serves as an example for anyone who thinks athletic activity ends with older age. “Some people are incredible, even at 80 and 90,” he notes. He particularly likes to inspire younger folks. “That’s right up at the top of my list. I want to be a good role model for my family.” he concludes.
Cycling: Steve Prevost
For Steve Prevost, Retirement Is Simply a Gateway to New Adventure
When we retire, we often get the standard advice to: stay active, engage with others, and find a way to give back. Steve Prevost has gracefully achieved all three since retiring from a 42-year career as a dentist in 2013. He is now two years into his avocation of competitive cycling and recently started volunteering as a Meals on Wheels driver when he’s not out riding the lovely but challenging roads of Napa Valley.
Prevost got into competitive bicycling after a bout with prostate cancer in 2012. After he underwent nine weeks of radiation therapy, he decided to train for the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Games to help with recovery. He won a gold medal in his age group for the 17-mile course, and found he enjoyed both the competition and camaraderie. “The group of people involved in racing are easy to talk to and friendly,” he comments.
This year, he also got the chance to participate in the National Senior Games in July in Minneapolis, a peak experience he won’t soon forget. “It was a really great experience because of what the city did for the senior athletes, the way the competition was organized, and how smoothly everything went,” says Prevost.
He didn’t come back with any medals, but concludes “I have the feeling just doing the competition and knowing that I did my best is what really matters.”
Prevost was a recreational bicyclist for many years, riding with a club in San Francisco, and now has become a serious competitive cyclist who regularly checks his pulse, blood pressure, body temperature and hematocrit and blood sugar to assess the success of his training methods.
But he’s philosophical about the benefits of training so hard. “For me progress is not so much in terms of time or placing; it’s more in terms of personal health and discipline.”
Now Prevost is taking on another role, that of volunteer Meals on Wheels driver, which means he’s delivering meals to homebound seniors. Prevost says he is choosing to volunteer out of his gratitude for having had the chance to participate in the Sonoma Wine Country Games and now having the time to do things for others. “It’s a commitment to giving back.” he concludes.
Archery: Burrell Wyle
Active Involvement is the Key to Longevity
Burrell Wyle, 83 has been a bowman all his life. What is a bowman, you may ask? Burrell will tell you that he is an archer, skilled in traditional equipment like the long bow as well as “the craziest contraption he has ever seen” – the composite bow, introduced in the 1960’s and the standard for archers today. Traditional bowmen can “see the arrow fly” whereas the new bows, made mostly of composites, are faster and require more keen attention.
As teenager in Illinois, Burrell converted a broken fishing rod to a bow and has been shooting ever since. After his family moved to Oakland, he joined the Redwood Bowmen, whose range has been in existence since the 1920’s. Upon moving to Santa Rosa took up with the Sonoma County Bowman who roasted him recently. Burrell likes the competition and camaraderie of shooting and is looking forward to this year’s Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games event.
The spirit of the Senior Games keeps me looking forward each year to the competition, an attribute he finds an important part of the aging process. “Not only am as physically fit as a 60 year old, I’ve also kept pathways in my brain in practice by shooting. And the fact that I can look forward, year after year, to sports competitions and the social events that surround them keeps my mind at rest. Continuing to be able to do the things you like to do is the key to longevity.” says Burrell.
Swimming: Bill Grohe
Athlete Swims to Improve His Health – With Tangible Results
Bill Grohe, 80 got back into the pool to improve his health. Growing up on the East Coast, Bill knows how it feels to get into cold water – he’s been swimming since age 5 and competed throughout his high school and college careers.
After moving to San Francisco, the demands of work and family took him onto dry land, where he stayed until, at the age of 64, the years of inactivity had put weight on him and he knew he had to get moving. His wife was a Master swimmer at the University of San Francisco and cajoled him into giving it a try. Once in the water again, he lost the weight in about a year, tangible results that kept him going. When a friend suggested he attend a Masters swim meet, he was hooked again on competition. Bill says, “It brought back memories from school. I did well and had fun – there was no turning back.”
Finally in shape, he credits his athleticism for saving him when he had a heart attack a few years ago. “I would have never made it had I not been fit” Bill says. “Exercising for exercise sake can get boring. Competitive sports are exciting and challenging and keep this heart of an athlete coming back for more.”
Through the Master Swim program he met many people who were participants in the Senior Games in many locations across the country. In 2012, he participated in the Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games which he enjoyed, not just because he wins, but because this meet is very well organized at nice facilities.
Look for Bill in the pool again during the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games.
Square Dance: Carolyn and Tom Maloney
A Couple Finds Togetherness and Fitness!
Carolyn, 70, and Tom, 74, Maloney are very active Senior Game athletes from Petaluma who came back to sports later in life with the goal of finding an activity that they could do together when they retired. Tom and Carolyn were exposed to square dancing while on vacation. Tom says “We fell in love with the activity as it fit the bill of meeting the geriatric imperative of physically, mentally and socially engaging activities that I knew was so important from my medical practice – and we could participate together!” They returned to SonomaCounty, started taking lessons, and have been dancing together ever since.
Concurrently, Carolyn had been a swimmer in her early school years and when challenging by her brother in 2007 to train with their other siblings for the 2009 National Senior Games held at StanfordUniversity, she dove in. Turning the event into a family reunion, the “Cute Kids Comeback”, all five siblings, did well at those Games, where Carolyn went on to win “all the gold medals in her age group” so said the person handing them out. Tom and the rest of the family cheered them on.
Now hooked on the Senior Games, Carolyn and Tom discovered Square Dancing was a sport offered at the World Games in St. George Utah, where they competed in 2010 and 2011. When inquiring if the Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games offered the sport, they jumped at the opportunity to be the Sports Commissioners so that it could be included. Since 2012, besides the World Games, the Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games is only other Senior Games to offer the activity thanks to Carolyn and Tom.
Carolyn and Tom, a cancer survivor, both agree that Square Dancing is “friendship set to music” and are appreciating the health benefits it offers, as well as the many people they have met from around the world.
Basketball: Fred de Santo
Competition a key to longevity
Fred de Santo, took up basketball in college, after a football injury sidelined him and has been going ever since. “It’s a race to the top”, say Fred, always admiring those ahead of him in age and as time passes, he moves smoothly into the next age category of competitive senior sports.
Passionate about staying active, Fred discovered the Senior Games circuit at the age of fifty and he feels every year he gets better and increases his game skill set. “If I wasn’t doing this, what would I be doing” is a common comment made by senior athletes and Fred agrees. “I am constantly learning about myself as a player and enjoy the supportive atmosphere the Senior Games presents. Yes, we compete, but the social contact benefit is enormous for the fun factor as well as skill improvement”, he says.
Fred, who also breeds boxers, feels that his active lifestyle which also includes daily walks with his dogs, keeps him healthy and sane. He also enjoys Track & Field and is a vegetarian, another key, he believes to longevity. Hoping to help get other seniors off the couch, he has even contemplated writing a book with a fellow senior competitor, ex-NBA player, Wally Jones. “How to Stay Young While Being Old” was tabled because he is just too busy having too much fun playing ball!