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My Olympian Mom

Updated on July 24, 2014

My Mom Rocks the Senior Olympics

My mom Carol is the poster child/lady/grandma for keeping fit for a lifetime. I guess you could say that the Senior Olympics are a culmination of her years of a wholehearted enjoyment of sports and being active.

When I say 'Senior Olympics,' you might think of events like golf, shuffleboard and speed walking, but they also include sports like volleyball, swimming, triathlon and basketball. With the possible exception of speed walking ....maybe... I think all of these senior athletes could soundly kick my fairly-fit 30-something rear up and down the street in their chosen sports.

Here's a tribute to my fun-loving, hard working mom whose Senior Olympic medals look beautiful on her, but don't hold a candle to the beauty of her dedication to being healthy, being a team player and excelling in sports she loves.

Summer National Senior Games, A.K.A. The Senior Olympics

Encouraging the health and wellness of seniors through sports

Run by the National Senior Games Association (a non-profit branch of the Olympic Committee), the National Senior Games are held every other summer in a different host city around the US. Participants must be 50 years of age or older and qualify through state Senior Games events.

The games have been held since 1987, and have become one of the biggest multi-sport events in the world. Over 15,000 athletes participated in the 2011 Summer National Senior Games in Houston, TX. The 2013 games' host city is Cleveland, OH.

My mom, age 2 and her older sister zooming around the neighborhood. Beginnings of a future triathlete.

My mom, age 2 and her older sister zooming around the neighborhood. Beginnings of a future triathlete.
My mom, age 2 and her older sister zooming around the neighborhood. Beginnings of a future triathlete.

An Athlete Since Childhood

Swimming is only one of the many athletic activities Carol has enjoyed for most of her life.

I don't think there's been a day of my mom's life where she hasn't loved to be doing something active. Growing up, she spent much of her free time in her Iowa hometown's YMCA either swimming or doing gymnastics. High school saw her as the captain of the synchronized swimming team, and in college her major was naturally physical education. One summer in college as she was lifeguarding, she met my dad. I guess I have her athleticism partially to thank for my existence. ;)

She's taught physical education classes for kids from toddlers through high school, and shared her great attitude, excellent sportsmanship and joy of the sport coaching over a decade's worth of junior high school volleyball players. From the first tryout each year, mom's volleyball team hopefuls heard that sportsmanship and a team-player attitude mattered just as much as ability when it came to being on the junior high team. Carol was never the overweight PE teacher who just blew a whistle and ordered the kids around; she was a compassionate, caring and fun-loving teacher who did aerobics right along with her students.

Mom did her best to pass along the importance of physical fitness to her children as well. As kids, we biked along with mom to various parks and tennis courts, following along behind her like a line of ducklings. The other moms on our street loved her since she was the mom who would pile all the neighborhood kids along with her brood into her big brown station wagon to take us to the local pool where we could play under the watchful eyes of lifeguards and she could work out in the lap pool. My sister caught my mom's love of volleyball and went on to become the NCAA division 3 womens' volleyball player of the year her senior year of college. My brother played tennis in high school, and in adulthood I finally started enjoying being active with running, cycling and yoga.

Training for the National Senior Games

She had somewhat of a head start in volleyball, swimming and biking, but she's become a great runner too.

Since Mom already swam at every opportunity (think: asking to use indoor hotel pools during cold Midwest winters) and had played in volleyball leagues ever since I can remember, training for events like volleyball and swimming came fairly easily for her once she decided that the National Senior Games was her goal. She found an area volleyball team training for the state and national games and joined up with them, playing in qualifying tournaments. To improve her swimming stroke, she started getting coaching and swam with the Masters program at a local fitness club.

As for the cycling leg of triathlons, Carol was already a pro at long-distances, having ridden a full day in RAGBRAI, an annual bike ride across the state of Iowa, and the full distance in several other cross-state biking events. To encourage her along, though, my dad bought her a nicer bike.

With all my mom's athleticism, she didn't run regularly that I know of until she began training for her first mini-triathlons. I'd started doing 5K's during my mid-20's and Mom and I ran in her first 5K together. I think it was the ONLY time I've beaten her in any race, and it wasn't by much. Now she runs regularly and is clearly good at it.

Mom just kept competing in the events she wanted to participate in during the National Senior Games. There were many volleyball tournaments here, swim meets there, and triathlons during the summers. Some of these were for practice, but she definitely targeted competitions that would qualify her for the state's Senior Games. There she competed to be one of the top finishers to qualify for the National Games.

Carol has competed in the National Senior Games in:





..and she's competing in the 2013 games right now!

Go Mom!!

States My Mom Has Ridden Her Bike Across:



Minnesota (twice!)

Winning the Senior National Games Volleyball Gold Medal in 2007 - Carol's Chicago area team played in the youngest age bracket for the Senior National Games. Th

Mom's 2011 National Senior Games Results

Volleyball - 2nd in the 55 yr. age group.

Swimming - 4th in the 200 backstroke, 7th in the 50 yard backstroke, 8th place in the 200 freestyle. It was Carol's first year competing in swimming.

Carol's Cheering Section

My parents at my mom's first National Senior Olympics, held in Pittsburgh in 2005

My mom has also benefited from an exceptional cheering section, the undisputed head of which is my dad, Joe. He's encouraged her whether she meets her goals or not, he's taken great photos to document her accomplishments and he's celebrated each of her accomplishments. My brother and his wife got to see her play volleyball in her first Senior National Games in 2005. Neither my sister nor I have had the privilege of seeing Carol compete in the Senior Olympics, but we've gotten to cheer her on at some of her qualifying events.

It's pretty awesome to see your mom cross the finish line at the head of her age group in a triathlon. I am so proud of her!

A shout-out to my dad here for the great photos he took and let me share on this website. Dad, you're the best.

4 generations -- my grandma, my daughter and I congratulate my mom after a stellar triathlon finish

4 generations -- my grandma, my daughter and I congratulate my mom after a stellar triathlon finish
4 generations -- my grandma, my daughter and I congratulate my mom after a stellar triathlon finish

She's a Survivor Too - Fortunately, my mom's cancer was caught early and treated proactively.

My mom's faith in God's care for her, no matter what happened and her positive attitude were an encouragement to me. Just like with her running, cycling, swimming and volleyball playing, she did what needed to get done to help get better and she kept a smile on her face. In fact, it was hard for my dad to keep her resting long enough to heal up from surgery. She just wanted to be active again and go play.

Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelet
Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelet

Show your support for the fight against breast cancer with this beautiful bracelet. Perfect for moms who are breast cancer survivors, and to encourage women we love who are still in the midst of the battle.


It's never too late to get back into shape

* Get back into a sport you've previously enjoyed...or find a new one to try

* Do an enjoyable activity like walking around a beautiful park

* Find a friend to exercise with you

* Set small goals for yourself and celebrate when you reach them

Gear to Get You Inspired - Get outfitted for your next run, swim or bike...or volleball match.

How Does Your Mom Inspire You? - My mom is an inspiration to me with her trips to the Senior Olympics, and so, so much more about her. I'd love to hear about ho

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    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD. What a great mom you have!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      How sweet! Your mom rocks!

    • mrdata profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations for you LOTD! Big success for you!

    • RawBill1 profile image


      5 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Congrats on LOTD. What a great story. I wish that my mum was that active but alas, she is not. But she is still awesome just the same...most of the time! lol

    • BunnyFabulous profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm so humbled and honored to have received so many wonderful, thoughtful comments in response to this lens being chosen as Squidoo's Lens of the Day on 1/14/2013. My mom read them all and was very touched. She sends her heartfelt thanks too!

    • matthewcirino1 profile image


      5 years ago

      truly inspring and awesome story!!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations on Lens of the Days! I wish my mom get recover soon.....

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 

      5 years ago from Johanesburg

      Great lens ,what an impressive Mom .

    • Spiderlily321 profile image


      5 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD. This is a very sweet tribute to your mom. Angel blessed

    • CampingmanNW profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD!! Your lens about your Mon is most inspiring and heart warming, Thank you.

    • youndyd lm profile image

      youndyd lm 

      5 years ago

      What an amazing lens. Really enjoyed it.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      That is outstanding! Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow! Impressive! Nice!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a very nice tribute to your mom. She sounds like an amazing woman.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like your lense! She's a really mom worth your proud and I can see her enthusiasm in life, great!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like your lense! She's a really mom worth your proud and I can see her enthusiasm in life, great!

    • choosehappy profile image


      5 years ago from US

      Congrats on lotd; very inspiring! *Blessed*

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      5 years ago

      Beautiful life story, I like the determination to make it! Blessings!

    • SquidWords profile image


      5 years ago

      My mother is not an Olympian.. but I still have the same admiration as if she was. Congrats to Carol.

    • SquidooMBA profile image


      5 years ago

      What a great lens and story about your mother. Congrats also on being Lens of the Day!

    • JohannDog profile image

      Johann The Dog 

      5 years ago from Northeast Georgia

      Big congratulations on LOTD, fabulous lens and fabulous Mum!

    • LynetteBell profile image


      5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Well done on LOTD. Sadly my Mom is no longer with me. My tribute to her is my yesterday, today, tomorrow lens.

    • XenasDeals profile image


      5 years ago

      Bless you Mom, she is amazing!

    • nicenet profile image


      5 years ago

      My mother is still alive. she is an exceptional courageous mother. She can endure and overcome excruciating trials.Very strong minded woman.

      Thanks for honouring your mum.GOD bless you really good.

    • SolangeHumber profile image


      5 years ago

      such an inspirational lense. Congratulations!!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Your mom set a example for fitness and not letting an illness get you down. My mom was very inspiring about extending herself to others and being involved in her community.

    • plecasso lm profile image

      plecasso lm 

      5 years ago

      Very personal and emotional lens. I love it. Congrats on a job well done!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      hi there I am so proud of your mom i wish I be like her I am not an athete like her instead I always like to stay inshape try to help others,but this is all about her great work

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 

      5 years ago from California

      Congratulations on LOTD

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 

      5 years ago

      The only thing my mum could not do, was dance! The reason for that was she went into hospital at 18 months with a fever, and, like all the other children in the ward, contracted polio. But that never stopped her creativity. She could turn her hand to anything creative, including designing and building her own kitchen, create dresses that we 'NEEDED' overnight (dresses that nobody else could find in shops), and all we had to do was present her with the material. When we all married she designed window treatments for our homes, knitted gorgeous outfits for our babies,and was the best and fairest grandma.

      Love your lens. Your mum is clearly inspirational.

    • LisaNowatzki profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations on the LoTD and a beautiful lens. My Mom inspires me every day.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My mom is deceased - but I have to comment. She was a polio - survivor and a lifetime horsewoman who gave me the tenacity to do my fitness and sport. I will ever be grateful for the woman who gave me so much fight. I think you have inspired me to do a LENS!!

    • BestMassageChairs profile image


      5 years ago

      Congrats on LoTD :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh wow, she is a wonder women. :) congratualations

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      5 years ago from Vermont

      I can only hope to stay in shape as well as your mom has. Bravo to her, and to you for this great LOTD.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Excellent lense, your mom is awesome!

    • knitstricken profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for the encouragement that "It's never too late to get back in shape". And Congrats on your LOTD!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      5 years ago

      what an inspiring mom.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      congrats on lens of the Day. Have a nice day.

    • Art Inspired profile image

      Art Inspired 

      5 years ago

      Congrats on your lens of the day! Thanks for the inspiration! Make it a great day!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      Wow, your mom is awesome! She is an inspiration to many of us in her age group. Congrats on LOTD also!

      My mom never graduated from high school and didn't have much business savvy but that didn't stop her from running our household on common sense. I remember her taking my dad's weekly paycheck and putting small amounts of money in different envelopes to budget our monthly expenses. This inspired me to start saving the same way after starting my first job. I bought savings bonds with the hope of one day going to the Olympics. Sure enough that day came and I have been fortunate enough to attend 3 Olympiads. All because of a smart mother who grew up in the depression era and passed along her smarts to her kids.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      What an inspiring story for all of us. Congratulations on a well deserved LotD! ~~~Blessed~~~

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What an inspiring and motivating lens as well as a beautiful tribute to your wonderful mom. Giving a shout out to your mom...Go Mom! :) Congrats on LOTD. Stay healthy and blessed!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very beautiful.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      Stopping back by to leave a blessing and help celebrate this inspirational LotD! Go mom! I'd love to do this when my time comes. Better start training right now.

    • chezchazz profile image


      5 years ago from New York

      Very cool! What a wonderful and inspiring lens. Congrats on LOTD - well deserved.

    • Mamabyrd profile image


      5 years ago

      Love it!! my mom is in her 50's She is a runner. It inspires me to stay in shape. We are currently training to do a marathon together in March.

    • BowWowBear profile image


      5 years ago

      An inspiring lens, both in tribute to your parents and educating us about possible goals to achieve as we age! Great Lens, thanks for sharing!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Wow! How exciting for your Mother and I have never heard of the Senior Olympics before! I better start training :)

    • lewisgirl profile image


      5 years ago

      A nice tribute to your mom and a great goal for the rest of us. Congrats on your LOTD!

    • dimitry168 profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for your trouble to write all this story. Your mother is truly a powerful person because not everyone practice sport this way and so much. She is a good figher too. I am so glad that she is cured from cancer.

      My gratitude for your mom from my heart.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What an inspirational woman your mom is! Loved the lens. :-)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Well.. my mom is pretty cool too! She line dances every day, sails, and a lot more! And she is in her mid 70's! (Sorry, I told) he he

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Your mom probably expends more energy in a day than many of us, myself included, do in a week. Hmm, guess it's time to consider heading to the "Y." Thanks for an interesting and loving lens.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Wow, your mom is truly an inspiration. I loved reading this special tribute to her. Well done and congratulations on a well deserved LOTD!

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 

      5 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I wish I was as fit as your mum, but I have health problems which preclude that. Go Carol!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Kudos to your mom for being a survivor and an inspiration to so many! Congrats on making LOTD!

    • treehousebrando1 profile image


      5 years ago

      The dedication that must take is mind blowing. Most people have a hard time sticking to a 30 minute gym routine.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      5 years ago from Washington KS

      What a wonderful, uplifting lens!! Your mom is great!! My mom has been gone for almost 30 years but still inspires me every day.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Your mom is an inspiration to us all! Thanks for sharing. *blessed

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 

      5 years ago

      This is a lovely tribute to your wonderful mother!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What an inspiring story. My Mom inspired me by speaking her mind. Unfortunately she died at the age of 51 from cancer. Now, I am older than she was when she died and I try to stay in shape and be aware of my health.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      5 years ago from Concord VA

      My mom is 91 years old and is still in good health and active! Congratulations to your mom, and to you for a wonderful LotD!!

    • LauraKiora LM profile image

      LauraKiora LM 

      5 years ago

      This is such an inspiring post. My mom has also had cancer and it so good hearing about other people's recoveries.

    • nicks44 profile image


      5 years ago

      Let us just say that she went through a lot of things thus far and she is going strong! :)

    • CornellMarCom LM profile image

      CornellMarCom LM 

      5 years ago

      Your mom is very inspiring. You should be very proud...Thank you for sharing your mom with us.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      My mom inspires me by her upbeat attitude and her beautiful quilts. Awesome lens in honor of your mother. I am so very proud of her! What an example to those of us her age and older! Thank you for this very inspiring Lens of the Day!

    • delia-delia profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! God has Blessed you having your mom, and her accomplishments especially after cancer. I lost both parents from cancer at an early age and have lived most of my life just thinking about my mom and wishing she was here...but nonetheless she is an inspiration in my life.

      Great heartfelt lens! ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      5 years ago from USA

      Congratulations, this lens was selected Lens of the Day today. You can read all about it here:

    • writerkath profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow! What a terrific, inspiring page about your wonderful mom! You have a lovely family. Congratulations on your LOTD honors! And please congratulate your mom for me... Tell her she is inspiring me to get off my butt and start moving! :)

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 

      5 years ago

      congrats on your LOTD

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 

      5 years ago

      What a beautifully done tribute to your Mom. I bet she's as proud of you, as you are of her.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 

      5 years ago

      This is a beautiful tribute to your mom. She is so inspiring! Woww Congrats for both, for having a mom like yours and your LOTD :)

    • KatsumiShiokawa profile image


      5 years ago

      this is even inspirational to me as a 22 year old :)

    • capriht profile image


      5 years ago

      That's great to see... I live in a small beach town called Port Macquarie in NSW, Australia, we hold the regional Iron Man here and its great to see the seniors keeping fit, congrats and well done to your mum...

    • NausetViews profile image


      5 years ago from Boston

      Thank you for sharing your story about such an amazing woman...and mother. She is an inspiration!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      5 years ago

      Very inspirational. I hope 2013 becomes the year I become an inspiration to my kids as an athlete.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Your lens reminds me of the Reader's Digest section "The Most Interesting Person I've Ever Met." Inspiring reading. Thanks a lot.

    • CoffeeCupMom profile image


      5 years ago

      Kudos to your Mom! A great inspiration to all women over 50!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this inspirational lens! Congrats on the LOTD and congrats to your mother for her achievement!

    • graphite75 profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens, what an inspiration. Congrats on LotD!

    • Jogalog profile image


      5 years ago

      A very inspiring lens. Well done to your Mum!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      This is a truly inspiring story from a wonderful family. I know from personal experience that to compete at this level takes sacrifices from more than just the performer. Your whole family are an inspiration, way to go the Ward's! Congratulations on the LOTD.

    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 

      5 years ago from Surrey, UK

      What a great lens and what an inspiring mum!

      Congrats on lens of the day!

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 

      5 years ago

      Your mom's a senior? SHE LOOKS YOUNG :), that is definitely a good thing. What an inspirational and meaningful lens. Blessed, your mother seems and is amazing.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Incredible story and inspiration! Your mom is a rockstar! Congrats on LOTD!

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image


      5 years ago

      Very cool! I still have hope ;-)

    • LaPikas profile image


      5 years ago

      This is very inspirational for everybody, really a good roll model for my kids and myself. Congratulations you must be so proud!! =)

    • kcsantos profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a wonderful tribute! Thanks for sharing this lens.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      5 years ago

      Love this!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Such a wonderful story about your mom and her being part of the senior olympics, thanks for sharing and congrats on LOTD.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations for the LOTD!

    • FatLossDiva profile image


      5 years ago

      Well done to your mom. She's an inspiration, and she looks fabulous.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Returning to say congratulations on your LOTD. This is so inspirational for seniors everywhere. Go Carol...keep up the good work.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great story, thank you for sharing it to us. Super inspiration to all of us!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations to you and your mom. Her story is inspiring. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • JohannDog profile image

      Johann The Dog 

      5 years ago from Northeast Georgia

      Wow! Super inspiration you got there. Congrats to your Mum!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Wow! Your Mom is a real inspiration! blessed

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Very inspirational! Go mom! I want to be just like you. :-)


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