Starting Thursday, the 28th Iowa Senior Games expect to bring in a record-breaking 900 participants. Iowans 50 and older can compete for titles in more than 80 events. One man plans to compete in nearly half of them.
Jim Schlick was lifting weights in his Ames home in preparation for the weekend. He’s 52 and said he’s always enjoyed staying in shape.
“As I do these dips…I’ve seen a commercial probably 20 years ago but it was a 90 year old guy barefoot skiing on TV. And I always told my family that I am going to be that guy.”
Schlick is a competitor in this weekend’s Senior Games, a four day series of 29 different sports. For his second year in the games he plans to compete in more events, 34 of them, than any previous Iowa Games athlete.
He’s up to the challenge after a lifetime of fitness and 10 years of performing in triathlons. But recently someone started driving him harder, his 14 year old cousin who has cystic fibrosis.
“Going out to Colorado and seeing my cousin and the way she’s living it. And her parents saying go for it all the time, just really inspired me. So instead of going for the triathlon, I thought let’s bring some attention to CF. And how do you do that is not just by running a triathlon because everybody sponsors somebody for a small race, but why don’t we go for the record.”
Director of the Senior Games, Matt Beatty, said the current event record holder is the All-American Hawkeye football player and NFL punt returner, Tim Dwight. But that wasn’t in the Senior Games.
“He was in the Iowa Games during their 25th anniversary he did 25 events. And if you know that Iowa games most people only do one or two events total. So for him to do that many was pretty incredible, it really was. I know that kind of drives Jim too that he wants to be able to say I did more than you Tim, what are you going to do now?”
The Senior Games have a variety of familiar sports like archery and softball, but there’s one Schlick knew little to nothing about: Pickleball. To learn more, he found videos online.
It’s a game with similar set up and rules to tennis, but played with a Wiffle Ball and a paddle. Schlick said he’s never held a paddle.
“The funny thing is I grew up playing all of the sports, so I thought man I’m going to be all over this. But then you see the lineup they made for me, and I would say 60 percent or 70 percent sports I’m playing for the first time in my life.”
In order for Schlick to meet his goal of playing in 34 events, he has to be at a new one every 30 minutes. So that eliminates one of his favorite games, tennis, because it takes too long. To help he is using his own advice he gave his 6-year-old daughter when she did her first mile race.
“Be the tortoise, I said all of these kids are going to go out real fast like the hare, but if you be the tortoise you’ll pass them at the end. When she got in that stadium she floored it and had the energy to beat them.”
Games director Matt Beatty says he has no doubt Schlick will be able to finish all of the events.
“He’s a very active individual. And he’s really interested in helping people latch on to that as well. He’s a little contagious in his…how motivated he is and so I could see right away you know that he wanted to really do something that mattered to people.”
Schlick said some may be surprised by who ends up winning a match.
“And that’s the nice thing about these Olympics you never know who is going to show up and beat you by looking at them. So never judge a book by its cover.”
To support Jim Schlick's fundraiser for cystic fibrosis research, you can visit: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/jimschlick
To keep up with the Iowa Senior Games, you can visit: http://www.iowaseniorgames.org/