In a way, Alice Carroll wishes she was one year older. The 85-year-old retired nurse from Syracuse, New York has participated in all National Senior Games since they began…well, almost. She wanted to go to the first gathering in St. Louis in 1987, but there was a problem.
“I was only 54 in 1986, and you had to be 55 to qualify and get in at that time,” she explains.
At the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana, NSGA celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Games, which included recognition of “The Great Eight” athletes who have competed in every edition. Had she been born a few months earlier, Alice’s perfect attendance would have changed the group to The Notable Nine.
Alice doesn’t think about what might have been, though. She earned two shuffleboard medals in Birmingham, a gold in 85-89 mixed doubles, and a silver in 85-89 singles. Ironically, her doubles partner since 2013 has been Ed True of O’Fallon, Illinois-one of the Great Eight all-time athletes. “We’ve become very good friends, even though we only see each other once every two years,” she says.
When she first qualified for the 1989 National Senior Games, Alice wasn’t sure she could afford to go to St. Louis. Her ten children had a big surprise for her. “All the kids came home for Mother’s Day and took me to brunch,” she recalls. “They had pooled their money, $700, and my son gave his frequent flyer miles for the plane ticket.” With a big smile, she adds, “They’re such good kids.”
While horseshoes and shuffleboard have been her national competition mainstays, Alice still enjoys several sports at the state level, including race walk, track dashes and long jump, triple jump, discus and shot put. Her motivation is health related.
Alice Carroll with gold medal partner Ed True
“I went to an all girls’ convent school that didn’t have any sports, so I didn’t start anything until after I was 50 years old,” Alice says. “I was stationed at an intermediate care and rehab facility at that time. I said to myself, ‘these people are only 10 years older than me. In 10 years am I going to be this sick and helpless?’ Then, on the way home from work, I was listening to the radio and heard, ‘If you’re interested in running or jumping or swimming or any sports, come to the Empire State Senior Games in Cortland, New York.’”
Beyond enjoying good health, Alice is thankful for many benefits gained from her participation. “I love to travel and see the sights, but the favorite thing is seeing my friends! I consider them both dear friends and competitors,” she continues. “I only get to see them every other year, so it’s what keeps me coming back.”
She also enjoys taking in everything at The Games, and says her Birmingham experience was among the best. “There were so many wonderful things going on there,” she says. “I would never miss the Celebration of Athletes. Having Pat Boone sing was a thrill, of course. I enjoyed all the Village activities, too. I liked the idea that Humana had set up treadmills and donated money to the Food Bank for every mile you go. I went on that treadmill every day.”
Alice has also been a magnet drawing others into The Games. “At one time we had eight family members coming to the Empire State Games. After my husband Paul died, I got my sister to come along with me, and she loved it. You know, people come to the Games as spectators and say, ‘Gee, I can do that.’ And many of my family did get involved.
“It makes you continue to do healthy things. I thank God every day for my family, and all the friends and opportunities I’ve had doing this.”