Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: How the Michigan Senior Olympics Keeps Seniors Active

“Even though I was older, there were things that we were doing that would actually put some of the younger people to shame,” says senior olympian Lisa Hypnar.

Bruce Beck

Click on the audio player to listen. CultureShift airs weekdays at 12 p.m. 

Since 1979, the Michigan Senior Olympics (MCS) has been at the forefront of supporting the health and fitness of senior citizens across the state.

For the 2018 summer games, about 1,200 seniors from around the state will compete in the Michigan Senior Olympics. The games provide an outlet for athletes older than 50 years-old to compete in all types of sports including swimming, basketball, triathlon, cross-country skiing and hockey — even a 100-year-old athlete will compete in golf this year.

The 2018 summer games will take place from August 10th through the 19th.

WDET’s Ryan Patrick Hooper speaks with Becky Ridky, the executive director of the MCS, to learn more about the community and health benefits of the senior games.

“It gives the athletes a chance to continue participating in the sport that they grew up playing,” says Ridky. “We have athletes who will train year-round preparing for the senior Olympics.”

Ridky says the games are important because finding ways to stay active is “not only good for your body — it’s good for your mind.”

Lisa Hypnar is a 64-year-old swimmer from Rochester Hills who competes in swim meets almost year-round after she first started volunteering for the Michigan Senior Olympics in 2009.

Hypnar quickly got hooked on the community and competition of the games. In fact, she excelled and has competed in the National Senior Olympics.

Before Hypnar got involved in the games, she had some major doubts about the whole thing — she initially thought the games would be “a whole bunch of these old people going out and doing silly things.”

“What I saw was people over the age of 50, of varying degrees of talent, but very, very talented,” says Hypnar.

Before Hypnar retired, younger colleagues used to mock her for competing in the games.

“As time went on people found out more of what I did and some of my accomplishments and then it was a whole different ball game,” she says. “They saw that even though I was older, there were things that we were doing that would actually put some of the younger people to shame.”

Registration for the Michigan Senior Olympic winter games opens in February of 2019.


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.