Location: Las Cruces
When Sis Warnke was growing up, she watched her two older brothers participate in sports, but she stayed on the sidelines because there was no competition for girls in most of the United States. Missouri, where she was born and raised, however, was among the first to push athletic competition for women, though only within the school itself.
“When I was in college, I majored in P.E., but at that time very few universities had team sports for women. Any sport that came along I did a stab at:volleyball, basketball, badminton, track. I was always active as I was growing up. I was a Tom boy, I guess.”
Warnke still jogs about three miles and cycles six miles a day. If she doesn’t feel like running, she says she’ll walk fast. “People ask me how do you do that,” she said. “Two little words: Keep moving.”
After teaching physical education classes for 30 years, some at Las Cruces’ Alameda Junior High School, she retired from teaching. She didn’t stay retired for long, however. One of Warnke’s daughters, Michelle Self, encouraged her to open a dancewear shop. Self opened a studio next door and continues to teach dance. Warnke has since closed the shop.
Warnke has competed in every National Senior Olympics since the first event help in St. Louis, Missouri in 1987 and has won medals at National, State, and local Senior Olympic games. She especially enjoys being able to compete at the national level. At the age of 82, she said she is outliving her competition locally. “All I have to do is enter now and the gold medal is mine,” she laughed. “I didn’t have any one in my age group. I just have to get out and do it.”
To those unsure about getting involved, Warnke suggested volunteering. “They always need volunteers and you could find out what it’s all about,” she said.