I have a guest writer this week. His name is Mike McCafferty, age 67, lifelong resident of Cincinnati. He’s the father of three, proud grandparent of six, and a Senior Olympian in Track and Field.
He has always been passionate about fitness and sports. He was a collegiate athlete in Track and Field at Miami University, and maintained his healthy lifestyle into his post-graduate life. He coached us as kids and went to the gym on a regular basis, but it wasn’t until 2006, at the age of 55, that he decided to take his love of track and field to new heights by competing in long jump and high jump at the Cincinnati Recreation Commission’s Senior Olympic Games.
The Senior Olympics started in the mid 1960s, when the National Recreation Association (now known as the National Recreation and Parks Association) developed their “Lifetime Sports” program to encourage individuals to compete in sports well into their senior ages. As this concept grew in popularity, California adopted a new athletic competition in the 1970s called the Senior Games, limited to athletes ages 55 and over. As this movement grew from state to state, the National Senior Games were created, with the first national competition being held in St. Louis, MO in 1987 with 2,500 competing athletes from across the country.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Senior Olympian Mike is my father. Here’s his account on how he got involved, and what you can do to encourage the seniors in your life to join in on the fun.
“In 2006, a fellow Miami University track and field alum made me aware of the Senior Olympics held each year in Cincinnati, hosted by the very active Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
The following sports compete:
Basketball free throws and spot shot
Billiards (8 ball)
Cycling (time trial 10.25 miles)
Golf (9 and 18 holes) and golf chipping
Road race (5 and 10K marathon)
Track and field
I was 55 at the time and had not competed in track and field since the ohio games disbanded over 10 years prior. With nothing to lose, I laced up and entered the high jump and long jump competition. I surprised myself (and family) with a couple of gold medals, and a few weeks later, I went to a national qualifier meet in Lexington, Kentucky. A medal in this meet qualified me for nationals, which are held every 2 years. Since then, I have participated in the national finals in Louisville, San Francisco, Houston, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Birmingham. This year’s efforts will hopefully qualify for the 2019 games in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
All of the above started with a simple invitation to participate in the Southwest Ohio Senior Games. It has given me resolve to continue to compete and adopt a healthy and active lifestyle in my senior years.
I recommend and invite all to check out all the sports involved and give one or two a try. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.”
I couldn’t be more proud of my dad for his dedication to his sport, for setting a good example for his children and grandchildren, and, most importantly, for maintaining his health and increasing his longevity and quality of life. We have had so much fun attending his meets throughout the years- it’s served as some great family bonding time. It has also been pretty neat to go from him coaching and cheering us on throughout our grade school and high school years, to us now switching roles and cheering for him.
If there’s a senior in your life that you think might be interested in competing in this year's competition, visit https://ohio.nsga.com or contact Sara Kennedy at 513-352-1631. There are 30 days left to register!