“Improve your technique or skill level. Be a student of the strategies of your game, whatever they are. And take care of yourself away from the field of play.” Bob Bowman, age 52 Michael Phelps’ coach
2016 was another inspiring Olympic year. Every fourth year brings me excitement and inspiration. The inspiration of the Olympic year pulls us out of our day-to-day and reminds us of much greater possibilities in human achievement.
I love the personal stories shared about the athletes, their families, and their coaches. This year I thought about our care teams in our senior housing communities who come to work and engage with elder Olympic-caliber coaches in their corner every day.
Coaching is a passion-fueled job to unleash the creative and personal power of others. Coaches make it possible for others to have a chance at something truly remarkable. It’s the opportunity to earn the title of “the best in the world.”
There were two elder Olympic Coaches that particularly inspired me.
Ana Botha, age 73 – coach of 400-meter gold medalist and new world record holder Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa. Botha will be celebrating her 74th birthday in three months. Ana Botha has swag and oozes the energy of a teenager. Botha, who was a sprinter and long jumper in her youth said, “I’m very blessed because I don’t have any health problems, and it is because I’m busy with young people – and you have to be high up there with them.” The regard the 24-year-old van Niekerk has for his coach is evident as he spoke about her. “I’m really grateful I can go on the track and say my coach has pushed me to reach every level and believe anything is possible.”
Martha Károly, age 73 – a Hungarian-Romanian gymnastics coach and the national team coordinator for Women’s USA Gymnastics. Her bond with this younger generation of athletes, in particular, is tight. When the team won the gold medal and were asked what team USA’s secret was, they said, “The secret is Martha.”
Coaching has reciprocal rewards – for the coach and the person being coached.
What are old people for? Dr. Bill Thomas, who wrote a book entitled What are old people for? How Elders will change the world, writes that the old way of seeing old age – as a time of decline and defeat – will be of little interest to boomers as they search for new ways to interpret their experience.
ELDERS AS TEACHERS AND LEARNERS: I am grateful for the elders in my life. Even though some are vulnerable and needing our assistance, elders are whole beings, strong in spirit and wisdom, with much to give. Every elder has purpose in teaching us, and learning and growing with us. I see that our young care team members are hungry for role models and mentors. Living and working together collaboratively in a multi-generational workplace is the perfect place to give purpose to elders, and inspiration to our care teams as we engage as partners to change the world!
SENIOR OLYMPICS: 101 year old Fred Winter thrilled the crowd at the Michigan Senior Olympics one day before Bolt won the 100 meter race in just 9.81 seconds at the Rio Olympics. The 2017 National Senior Games will take place in June in Birmingham. If you are interested in qualifying, check out their competition schedule and sports brackets.
About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living.