"It is time for us all to cheer for the doer, the achiever - the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it."
The above are words of wisdom from Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers.
There are some senior athletes in our midst who have accomplished remarkable feats during life's most trying period. A career and life well spent merit earnest recognition of their achievements by the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame.
The world of Senior/Master athletic competition is mostly unknown by the media and, consequently, by the public. We abide by the same rules and regulations established by national and international organizations. Competitions are held at local, state, regional, national and international levels.
Many competitors were previously college, Olympic and professional athletes. We compete against all comers, regardless of previous experience. How hard you train and prepare for the challenge determines who wins or loses. You are wholly responsible for your own victory or defeat. (We are not just old people playing kids' games.)
The competitions are a deadly serious business for some - those who strive to be the champion. It requires year-round training with weights and practice - practice - practice in snow flurries, rain or 95-degree heat. Our regimen is just as hard, if not more so under the circumstances, as that of younger athletes.
There are some differences for seniors. We never leave home without heating pads, ice packs, Aleve, support belts and wraps and our meds (for arthritis, hemorrhoids, muscle cramps, blood pressure, tremors, nitro pills, etc.). I know, because I've got them all. Also, we do it all on our own dime - no sponsors, no coaches, no transportation, no meals or lodging. We compete out of respect, dedication and passion for our sport, not reward.
One of our great senior athletes is Jim Grove, 89, from Lakemont. He was the Pennsylvania State Champion in horseshoes in 1991, '92 and '96. He has competed in the National Veterans Games for 18 years, accruing 18 gold medals in bowling and 17 gold medals in horseshoes. Since their inception in 2002, Jim has served as the chairman of the Golden Games' horseshoe competition.
Jim Bigelow, 74, from Tyrone has been playing basketball for 50-plus years. Some years back a tractor accident almost crushed the life out of him. A couple of years of painful rehab behind him and Jim was back! Incidentally, Jim has played in over 1500 games, and has scored more than 10,000 points.
Ernest "Jake" Webb "revolutionized bodybuilding in central Pennsylvania but often does not get the recognition he deserves," from an Altoona Mirror article. For 30 years, he performed feats of strength, operated "Jake's PA Health Gym," and was a mentor to many local athletes. His "firsts" are too numerous to mention here.
Personally, I was advised "not to set yourself up for disappointment." Seven national championships, innumerable state and meet championships and records, and 20 times recognized as a Nation Masters All-American, I guess, doesn't qualify.
However, the men I've mentioned (and more if space allowed) deserve recognition and respect for their decades of athletic excellence.
Jack O'Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association wrote, "Dominance at a position in your time is the best indication you're a Hall of Famer."
The athletes mentioned above have dominated their position in their time.
William D. Eisenhart
Where was drop-kick?
I figure Jeff Reed got about $35,000 a kick from the Steelers this past season.
I know this has him at the far end of the payscale in the NFL. And to make matters worse, he's laid off for the next six months.
But why punch out an innocent towel dispenser? He could have simply drop-kicked the arrogant machine. Anyway, why does he go around Pittsburgh without his own Terrible Terry Towel? And why didn't he claim he was just attempting to obey the law?
After all, the sign in the rest room says ''employees must wash hands."
It doesn't say whose hands. I think the convenience store should be penalized for "roughing the kicker."
And to think he did this all on Valentine's Day.
And our only worry is the economy. Yeah, right.
John K. Coyle