Location: Las Cruces
“As a young man I was involved in sports in my home town of Wilmington, Delaware, at the YMCA. I went to college with the goal of becoming a YMCA physical education instructor,” Dr. Jack Welch explained. “When I got in college, I got interested in sports science.”
The focus of YMCA, according to Welch, is development of the spirit, mind, and body, a focus he still emphasizes today. “I think that a complete life for any person, young or senior, is to realize ones potential in spirit, mind, and body. Too often people neglect the body part of it as they age. There is nothing more wonderful to motivate people than our Senior Olympic motto, ‘You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.’
Welch spent 30 years at New Mexico State University promoting sports and fitness as an instructor and coach, and has continued to use his teaching and organizational skills to conduct multi-sports clinics and walking workshops. He has also conducted swimming classes through the Red Cross and to raise funds for Jardin de los Ninos. And he just finished eight years on the Las Cruces City parks and Recreation Advisory Board and currently serves as 1st vice president of the Dona Ana County Senior Olympics Board of Directors.
Welch is also on the board of Swim Las Cruces, an organization seeking to bring an indoor pool to Las Cruces. He said, “The seniors would be a great beneficiary of this facility if we can get it built.”
In recognition of his outstanding personal and professional accomplishments and his community contributions, especially those enhancing the quality of life for seniors, Welch was awarded the 2001 New Mexico Senior Olympic Golden Athlete of the Year Award.
Welch said studies have shown the need for people of any age to be active. “Use it or lose it has been shown to be 100% true. It’s not the aging process that contributes to deterioration of strength and flexibility, it is the sedentary living, being a couch potato, that does people in.”
He cited studies that showed those taking up strength training in their 80s and 90s progress at the same rate as people in their 20s and 30s.
“They show just as much progress when they go from sedentary living to an active program. Some of the people were wheelchair bound and after weight training for a few weeks, they got out of their chairs.”
Welch encourages others to get involved in Senior Olympics and not to let competition scare them off. “It is friendly competition. Senior Olympians support one another and cheer for one another. We’re in it for the fitness and the good times. It’s not an intense competitive experience.
“You may find that your most enthusiastic supporter will be a fellow competitor.”