On May 14, 2022, Mary Garcia, commander of Holley-Riddle Post 21 in The Colony, TX, became a national champion. Competing in the National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mary went undefeated in singles pickleball in the Women’s 65-69, 3.5 age and skill category.
Twenty top competitors from across the country were in the W65-69 double elimination bracket. Mary had to defeat five outstanding players all in one day to get into the Gold Medal match, where she triumphed over a very tough opponent 11-5, 11-6.
To qualify for the National Senior Games, athletes must medal in their respective sport at a state -level games competition. Mary placed in the Texas State Games in San Antonio and in the State Games of Oklahoma in Women’s Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles in 2019. The national games were originally scheduled for November 2021 but were moved to May 2022 due to the pandemic.
“Seeing seniors of all ages competing at high levels of athleticism and exceling at their sport is inspiring. I’ve met so many positive, energetic people this week. It’s so important to have a purpose, to stay active and healthy. The games have everything from pickleball to track and field, team sports, bowling, archery, swimming and even cornhole. We don’t have to fade into the sunset. All Legionnaires can find a fun way to become an ‘active ager’ by participating in Senior games.”
Military people also made an impressive showing at this year’s national games. “There is a great group of veterans here!” Mary said. “We seem to find each other and cheer each other on. I met a 96-year-old WWII veteran participating in bowling, and a 100-year-old female veteran who served in WWII, and this week she ran in track events!”
Over 12,000 senior athletes ranging from 50 to 103 years old traveled to Fort Lauderdale for the 2022 National Senior Games. Mary now sets her sights on the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh in July 2023.
For information on Senior games in your state, go to www.nsga.com.