Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life

#353 – What A Racquet!

September 17, 2021 Kyle M Case & Lil Barron Episode 353
Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life
#353 – What A Racquet!
Show Notes Transcript

Today’s guest is one of our amazing athletes. Sylvia Sawyer has played in the Games every year since 1990. That makes 30 years of competing in the Games. She is an incredibly accomplished racquetball player, has been nationally ranked and will be inducted into the Huntsman World Senior Games Hall of Fame this year. 

Kyle and Lil also give an overview of Tennis at the Games.

Kyle Case  0:04  
Welcome to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. y name is Kyle Case and I'll be your host on this amazing journey as we attempt to help you get the most out of your life. Joining me in our studio today is my co-pilot, Lil Barron. It's exciting, I know we're just getting so close to the games so much is going on but listen, last week we talked about table tennis stimuli introduction you remember that. That's one of our amazing 35 different sports today, I thought we will talk a little bit about tennis. So drop the table and go back to the traditional tennis what you say about that. All right, let's do that so tennis I don't know if you knew this but tennis is one of the Oh essence to remember what it was means original sport, one of the operational sports has good Yeah one of the very original so tennis was offered in 1987 At the very first husband was in your games. Part of that was because our founder, John is a lifelong tennis player, and then he'll be turning 98 years old and just a couple of weeks and he played tennis well into as many sixth year, so tennis, you know, was always going to be a part of the game so from that standpoint. But aside from John's affection for the sport. It's just a great games is a great score and it does allow for lifelong activity and fitness and fun and as all the good things right. So as per our tradition will I consulted with our good friends over a few things to say about tennis over there, it seems that tennis has its roots in 12th century France. Interesting. So the Royals specifically Louie the tamped played a version of tennis without rackets, they called it game of the palm, or as the French like to say you the poem is uniform, I don't know if that's how they say it sounds, it sounds like that's how they would say, but they would hit the ball back and forth across the net with the palm of their hand we. So what a 16th century, they started using rackets, and that's when they started calling the game tennis, which is from the French Teddy's, which means, hold, receive, or take. So that's what the server will yell out to his opponent on the other side of the net before the ball was served, that just sound five net received with Sir, right, and you're ready to go right. So at this time the game was mostly played indoors, and you can hit it off the wall so kind of like back in the 1830, they say the invention of a lawnmower is credited with being the catalyst for the modern game being played outside and on grass, which is what they still do at Wimbledon today. So, there you go, just a very brief history, a very, very broad area where there's a lot more to it than that but here are the games this year, like I said, will be the 34th year that tennis will be offered and met the husband will see your tennis pro Clark Hancock as our tennis director. This year we have 332 players across different age groups and skill levels. He and his team they put all the draws together in the courts around town and make sure that the water and refreshments are available, so the players have a good experience. They provide the officials they arbitrarily protest they do it, and they do a great job on it. We offer singles, doubles and mixed doubles for 11 different age groups, and two different skill levels within each of those age groups. So there's a lot going on here is when tennis comes around our tennis tournament is sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation's, of course are honored and also very welcome to come and compete at the husband, what's your name so do you play tennis, but you never played, I played a little yeah so obviously we just played a very very very little bit I'm no good at it, but I do remember when we first moved to St. George. I brought my family down, and I had a third grader and a fifth grader and we had just barely received a we and attended Christmas, and they were so good. They could just be their parents. I'm so happy. So they were like we should go play real estate, this is they should. We should play real tennis so we brought him over to the Tunnicliffe tennis course which is one of the beautiful facilities that we play tennis. And let me just say wii tennis is much easier. We had a lot of tears shed that day in frustration as we chased the ball, every single so it's like we go. I will say that my son has gotten a little bit better since then. Not much but just a little bit better. Anyway, lots of fun, lots of fun so we're looking forward to having this tournament this year at the World Senior Games. And speaking of lots of fun and just things that we're looking forward to, we have an amazing guest today. Yes, one of our incredible athletes Sylvia Sawyer has played in the games every year since 1990, and it gives me chills, it's an amazing Yes 30 years of competing with the names. She is an incredibly accomplished Racquetball Player has been nationally ranked and will be inducted into the Huntsman World Senior Games Hall of Fame this year, Silvia Welcome. 

Sylvia Sawyer  5:20  
Oh, it's nice to be here. Thank you for having me

Kyle Case  5:23  
oh we're excited. So I'm curious you you were going to get into racquetball for sure. Don't worry, but is tennis a sport that you've also played, did you just go right to the basketball. 

Sylvia Sawyer  5:32  
Well I played tennis when I was a child, we, we lived in the mountains in California, and no one knew how to play tennis and there was a tennis court, right, so we got out our book of knowledge and looked up how to play tennis and keep score. And we lived on that tennis court after that

Kyle Case  5:54  
That's kind of how I got into this as well. I grew up in the mountains of Idaho. Again, there was a tennis court over at the city park and one day my brother and I found our parents, old like heavy, heavy racket, we asked them to strike because like they are not fiber, they were wooden, they were just old but we found these were like hey let's you know ride our bikes into town and go see if we can play tennis, our experiences. We got a lot of ball chasing, but we ended up having a lot of fun, and it's a great sport it's a sport so

Sylvia Sawyer  6:26  
Im anxious used to tell my brother what you said he's a handball player know that tennis was first played with your hands. Yeah, you can hit it off that sidewalls and things like that. Oh, I'll be most excited to tell him.

Kyle Case  6:43  
No, it's very similiarand said sounds to me like it was very similar to kind of the modern day and handball. Speaking handball let's talk a little bit about racquetball it's kind of a similar thing except for with the, with the rackets. Have you been playing racquetball at the husband will Senior Games for 30 years, which is just an incredible accomplishment. It's just inspiring is amazing, but obviously you were playing before you started playing at the Games. How did you get into racquetball.

Sylvia Sawyer  7:11  
Oh, I had a neighbor who invited me down to the racquetball courts, and I thought, how hard can this be, and then she being heavier than I am because I'm just a slight bit of a thing, and a little bit older, I thought, I can beat her. When she beat me and I thought, there's more to this game than I realized. Right, so I went home and started reading about how to play racquetball and how to get better written several books and gotten better, I finally feature. But by then I was hooked. It didn't take much to be hooked on racquetball, everyone loves it.

Kyle Case  7:57  
I'm gonna tell you. I am also not good at ranking well there's so many things I know so many things I'm not good at, but it is something that I enjoy and I do like to play I don't have to have the control but, you know like I can't hit it right down in that corner and have the ball just roll back I can't do that unless it's just luck, but it is it is silly. It's a fun game. It's a fun sport to play. Well, it really is,

Sylvia Sawyer  8:25  
and I like the interaction with the people while you're on the court too it's, it's a fun, fun game. Yeah, you're

Kyle Case  8:32  
in there together and so there's there's some there's some interaction I like that word there's something that goes on on the racquetball court. So you, you kind of got to pick it up from a friend and a neighbor sounds like and then you started working at it and got better and better at the height of your career. Tell us a little bit about where you were at there.

Sylvia Sawyer  8:53  
Well, when I was in my 40s and went back to BYU I thought I'd better graduate, and they had a racquetball team. Okay, so I thought, well, I can play as good as they can, even though I'm 20 years older, or more, and the following year and the head person for the racquetball team went on a sabbatical leave and he asked me if I wouldn't kind of shepherd them along. So I did, and when he came back he said, I don't really want. You're doing such a fine job. I'll just let you keep going. And it was at that time that they changed racquetball from a team sport, to what they call an extramural sport. And that meant that we had maybe $300 in our account to spend for the whole taking over an entire year. And we treated it like a club that were able to be sanctioned by the university if we wanted to play like the University of Utah, or, or Utah State, some of some of the other things. Through the years, it just really grew, and I was the coach for the team for 15 years. And during that time, we got so good that both our men's and women's racquetball team combined the scores, won the national racquetball collegiate three years in a row, 9596 and 97.

Kyle Case  10:43  
Sylvia, that is amazing. Congratulations, some success there. Now I just want to clarify. Obviously, you ended up being the coach and shepherding as you said, and helping them alone. When he first started playing though, were you playing as a collegiate athlete in your 40s Or were you just there practicing and just kind of involved.

Sylvia Sawyer  11:03  
Well I was a coach player. Okay, I actually played in the first tournaments that we went to,

Kyle Case  11:10  
I love that. I love that so you go back to school in your 40s, and you're like, I still got some eligibility right NCAA rules I have some eligibility to play a college sport. Yes, I think that is fantastic, and of course that moved into coaching and, and, obviously, you've been able to share your love of the game and, and just, I find that incredible, I find that incredible, I'll be honest in the back of my head. Sometimes I still think I still got four years of eligibility like I didn't use any of that eligibility, realizing that I'm so bad at everything. That's that is great. That is just amazing. So, let me, let me ask you this, when you first started playing it sounds like you picked it up from another woman, who, who introduced you and by the end of the sport. Was that pretty common, was this a sport that a lot of women were playing or were you guys kind of the pioneers at that time.

Sylvia Sawyer  12:12  
Oh we were the pioneers, and we played at the Oregon fitness center, and after a couple of years they asked if there wasn't something I could do to create a program to get women interested. So we did we had a women's league in the mornings, and I still have friends from now, many years ago now, and they come and put their children in the babysitting facilities there and we really, really enjoy playing racquetball together.

Kyle Case  12:48  
How fun is that it's a great sport it's one that's one of the few sports that my wife and I have played together, not recently, but when we lived in Cedar City. We used to play a lot, and it's fun, it's just a fun game I really enjoyed racquetball. I want to talk to you about longevity, I mean you have been in this game for a long time, and that is amazing, incredible, you put decades into this. How have you been able to stick with it, and to stay involved and engaged in the sport, how do you how do you describe your, your longevity and what's your secret.

Sylvia Sawyer  13:23  
Oh, that's really good. Not only did I have a love of the sport but I really enjoyed the people I was playing with. And it's not a sport you can just go out and walk around the block or do or jog or whatever and do alone, you have actually have to have someone in court with you if you want to play a game. And I had people who would encourage me to come and I would encourage them so you really do need a friend. And I had a husband who babysat the kids. So it was nice for me to get out. After many, many years I discovered that that was possible he could do this.

Kyle Case  14:14  
Well that's great, I love it. You've, you've as I've said you've been competing at the Games for a very long time we have a program that we call the insurance awards here at the game where we celebrate longevity and consistency. And this year, Silvia you are eligible for the 30 year award, which is a nice Letterman's jacket and we're so excited to present that to you. I'm wondering if over the past 30 years in competing at the World Senior Games if you have a favorite memory associated with the games.

Sylvia Sawyer  14:48  
Oh that's a good question. I'm actually one of my favorite memories is a man from New York, who was just about ready to turn 90 And there wasn't anyone else for him to play in the games. Yeah, but they had signed him up, and I think the oldest player at that time was about 65 So he was principally a

Kyle Case  15:14  
pretty big age gap,

Sylvia Sawyer  15:15  
but he used to come and watch the women play racquetball. And because we were more his speed at close to 90. And we got to be friends with him. And so the following year, we asked if I couldn't play doubles with him in the women's division. And just to give him someone to play with. So I went down to K Mart there in St. George, bought a wig. In Brazil, and he actually put that way. Loved it.

Kyle Case  15:58  
Yes, so great is that what an incredible story of inclusion exactly is finding a way to get people involved and engaged and, you know that there's an age difference there certainly between the 65 of the 90 year old creative planning a way to give them a chance to get in there and play. So you became doubles partners. How did you fare against everybody else did you do okay, or like what did that look like.

Sylvia Sawyer  16:26  
Well, it didn't take them long to realize that all they had to do was handed to him. And they won that the rally so we certainly had a good time.

Kyle Case  16:38  
He was just a little slower, but you had a great time. That's the most important part of the game. Well, it really is you know we listen, we all want to win. I want to do our best we know those metals need something we all know they're made of more than a gold plating on top of that sheet metal underneath, we know that they're made of sweat and determination and hard work and all those kinds of things so we all want to go for those things that's important but the World Senior Games really does have just a special element of camaraderie and a fun and enjoyment and that's what it's all about we, our mission statement is fostering worldwide peace, health and friendship. We feel so strongly about that we of course, you know the health is is done through the competition. But those elements of peace and getting to know one another and realizing that we're all part of the same human family and we're all just people, and that friendship element is so important than this, he'll be a discount like you embrace that family activity over the past 30 years of involvement. Well, the older you get,

Sylvia Sawyer  17:43  
the crazier you can get. I'm looking forward to that.

Kyle Case  17:51  
That is wonderful. I want to talk a little bit about your Hall of Fame induction one say congratulations.

Sylvia Sawyer  17:57  
Oh, thank you so much, that's such an honor to him now on me. I think

Kyle Case  18:02  
much much deserved and no question in our minds that that's a much deserved. What were your feelings when you were notified and said hey we've got a place for you in the Hall of Fame. Senior Games.

Sylvia Sawyer  18:13  
Whoa. I just know that you work really hard to choose some really easy, people to be in and I'm just really humbled to finally have it happen to me. So really nice,

Kyle Case  18:30  
very much deserve 30 years and not just 30 years of playing but this this story that you share, you know, trying to make a difference in people's lives and finding a way to connect people to their sport, whatever that happens to be in your case, of course it's racquetball, but finding ways to connect people I know that you have worked not only on the court as a player, which is, you know what the games are about, but you certainly volunteered your time and your talents and your expertise and we're excited and grateful to you for all the work that you put into that make the games what they are. People like you sell your games great so, so thank you and once again, congratulations, and like you help people, you know, people want to come back because you've treated them so much so

Sylvia Sawyer  19:19  
thank you very much.

Kyle Case  19:22  
So we've talked a little bit about the longevity and how you've been able to stick with this for for much longer than 30 years and just enjoyed it. What advice do you have for people who are either just starting out or thinking, maybe my time is over, what would you say to those people.

Sylvia Sawyer  19:42  
Well, if you're not in a wheelchair, yet you have something to, to contribute. I shouldn't be saying, wheelchair I've even watched wheelchair racket

Kyle Case  19:54  
both. I know they have that

Sylvia Sawyer  19:57  
wheelchair everything so that I shouldn't have used that comparison. If you haven't relegated yourself to the rocking chair I shouldn't say, man, there's plenty more for you to do, and more people to meet, and enjoy and learn about. So I find every year I make more and more people I have a lot of friends from this tournament that I really enjoy.

Kyle Case  20:31  
Yeah, you just have to by default over 30 years I know that when you walk into the course or into a gathering of racquetball people you're certainly well known and loved and again it's just, it's more than just the game although certainly that's a part of it, you've been successful on that element but it's, it's the reaching out, it's the friendship is the camaraderie is the personal touch that you, you bring to everything that you do, and we just love being associated with you, Silvia and looking forward to honoring you in a couple of different ways, this year. In addition to the sports the games do offer you know a lot of social activities and ceremonies and things like that. I'm wondering if outside of competition if you have any memories that stand out over the past three decades of the games.

Sylvia Sawyer  21:20  
Well, every year is changed for the better and better and better, and to have the opening ceremonies there at the stadium, and have the athletes walk across the football field, toward the stands holding the flag. That just thrills me every time and I have done it time and time again, but I wouldn't miss it, it was just been a fun thing to do and inspiring

Kyle Case  21:47  
is ultimately is it truly is. I'll be honest, that's my favorite part of the game as well. Opening Ceremonies, love those, those smiles and the energy, and I just, I say this all the time but it's just like there's magic in the air, it's just the air just sparkles that night. It just is significant in so many ways and I love to feel that spirit, like you said, so we have all the athletes and energy and excitement.

Sylvia Sawyer  22:15  
There is one more memory. Yes, and that's John Morgan and year after year he's there and he is an inspiration just to be around him. and to see him carry that torch in life that cauldron. That was a real thrill.

Kyle Case  22:37  
It really is and we're all just blessed to be associated with John Morgan for sure. He loves the game so girl not everybody has had the opportunity that you've had Sylvia to get to know your model one on one basis it's just impossible to get to know everybody. But he certainly is an inspiration and has fan for me and certainly a mentor, so excited to see him again this year and, and hope that he can fill that role as he has over the past 34 years and the ones in your names and facility that's all the time that we got to visit with you. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you for everything that you've done to make these games great,

Sylvia Sawyer  23:13  
I'll be over to watch racquetball this year, so I will come and find you. We'll be looking for

Kyle Case  23:22  
you. We look forward to it. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day. Okay, thank you. I know I hear, just amazing. Couple of things just to wrap us up here, a reminder the registration has closed, but if you missed out on that and want to see what all the fuss is about. You can check out all the schedules rules all the information you need, watch the events, that's all at Senior Games dotnet and there of course you'll find an updated COVID-19 plan and everything you need to know to enjoy the games as an athlete or a spectator it's all at. Senior Games dotnet. It's also worth mentioning that you can register now to be a volunteer for the games and then we need volunteers. We just need a truckload of them and we've always just had the best that have shown up and helped us out. It takes about 3000 volunteers to pull this thing together though we have opportunities in sports we have opportunities outside of sports, you can search for your opportunity by day or by interest, and you can find the thing that speaks the most to you from a volunteer standpoint it's very easy to do. Also when you register to volunteer this year you'll be automatically entered in a drawing for a brand new eBay charge bikes worth, worth a shot there. We want to remind you to tune in live next and every Thursday 5:30pm Mountain Time on AM 1450 or FM 93.1 for the Huntsman World Senior Games active life. We take this live show we turn it into a podcast, and you can also subscribe, anyone that podcasts are found. If you're listening by Podcast Take a moment, give us a rating, you can write a quick review that really helps us spread the word. You can also easily do that on your iPhone by just scrolling down to the bottom of your apple podcasts app and shooting us some stars there, and you can find this, as well as previous shows right on our website, and once again that is senior So check that out. Today's inspiration comes from American poet Nikki Giovanni. And she says, mistakes are a fact of life. That is the response to the errors. Until next Thursday, stay active.

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