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2023 Tennessee Senior Olympics Hall of Fame inducts four athletes

Key Takeaways

  • BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has been a sponsor of the Tennessee Senior Olympics for more than 40 years.
  • BlueCross established the Hall of Fame program in 2017.

Since 1981, the state’s top senior athletes have competed in the Tennessee Senior Olympics (TSO), which are dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles for seniors. The games feature 20 sports, including basketball, swimming, track and field, tennis, bowling, and pickleball.

Each year, four individuals who have demonstrated their long-term commitment to and participation in the games are inducted into the TSO Hall of Fame. The 2022 Hall of Fame inductees are Joe Camp, Jean Hinkle, Michael Morris and Kelly Price.

Joe Camp, 91
Friendship, Tenn.

Joe Camp has been active in district, state and national Senior Olympics for 35 years.  

“I like the competition and I like people,” Joe says.  “I play to win, but it’s the people that bring you back year after year.”

Joe was raised in Friendship with 9 siblings, and his father was a sharecropper. After graduating from Friendship High School, he joined the Navy. Six years later, he transferred to the Air Force, where he served for 23 years. He then worked at the U.S. Post Office for 19 years until he retired.

“I’ve lived all over the world and have always been active,” Joe says. “I got hooked on running when I was 50 through the senior center in Alamo. I’d run about every day and in a variety of events. I once ran in a 30k in Honolulu, which is 18.8 miles. It’s the reason I’m in as good shape as I am today.”

In addition to track and field, Joe has participated in a variety of sports at the games, including bowling, shuffleboard, table tennis, horseshoes and cornhole. He has been active in numerous district, state and national Senior Olympics. He recently medaled at his fifth national games.

“I like getting people involved in the Senior Olympics and have made a lot of friends through it over the years,” Joe says. “You get to know a lot of people your age because they tend to return each year.”

Jean Hinkle, 90
Midway, Tenn.

Jean Hinkle is an all-around athlete. She competes in track and field, basketball, softball, shuffleboard and horseshoes, medalling in every state Senior Olympics since the 1990s.

“My first Senior Olympics was 40 years ago, in 1983,” she recalls. “I threw the softball 123 feet in that event, which was farther than the men participating. I still hold a record for the longest softball throw. I love all the sports, but my favorites are basketball and horseshoes.”

A life-long resident of Greene County, Jean was a high school basketball star. In the Senior Olympics, she has won national silver and gold medals in basketball, the most recent in 2022. Her team, the Greene Hornets, practices four days a week at the local YMCA. They often play against men’s teams because there aren’t many women’s teams. She’s also participated in horseshoe pitching tournaments across the country and has won medals in the event at the district, state and national levels.

“I’m happiest on the basketball court,” Jean says.  “I don’t just want to practice. I want to play. I like getting out there and giving 100 percent.”

Jean has been a big promoter of the Senior Olympics, often recruiting family, friends and people she meets at the YMCA to participate.

“The Senior Olympics is a great way to stay active and be involved,” Jean says. “You make life-long friends. And it keeps you young and healthy.”

Mike Morris, 80
Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Mike Morris is a swimming phenom. Since first participating in the Senior Olympics in 2001, he has set or broken 34 state records and 3 national records. Every time he has swum in the Tennessee state finals he has set or broken a new record – except in a few cases where he already held the record.

“I’ve been swimming competitively for 72 years,” Mike says.  “I used to do triathalons, but swimming is what I love. I continue to swim every day. It’s my identity. Well, that and bridge.”

Mike grew up in Chicago, and after living in multiple cities around the globe for business, settled in Oak Ridge. He’s been a regular participant and promoter of the Senior Olympics ever since.

“I definitely like breaking records at the games,” Mike says. “It’s an opportunity to see where you stand against others your age. But more importantly, the Senior Olympics provides you with the incentive to get in shape and stay in shape. I encourage everyone I know to get involved and have helped train other swimmers for the games.”

Mike was recognized for his promotion of exercise and healthy living through his induction into the Oak Ridge Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. He is active in the community, having served on numerous boards of directors, including the Boys and Girls Club, Rotary Club, Girls Inc. and the Oak Ridge Children’s Museum. He’s been a softball coach, cheerleader booster and elementary school tutor. He has also raised funds to help improve literacy in the area.

“I think participation is key, whether it is in the community or in something like the Senior Olympics,” Mike says. “You don’t have to set records. Just show up and do your best.”

Kelly Price, 57
Chattanooga, Tenn.

Most people get involved in the Senior Olympics in their 50s. Kelly Price was 24. She has demonstrated her devotion and service to the games for the past 33 years.

“I started working with the City of Chattanooga Recreation department and we ran the district games for the Senior Olympics,” Kelly says. “I immediately fell in love with the program and the athletes.” 

“As an athlete myself, I was amazed how the participants performed at all ages, from 50 to 93. And it’s reassuring that I can play sports and love what I do no matter my age.”

Now that she has reached the qualifying age for the games, Kelly participates in badmitton, tennis and pickleball. But her favorite part is serving the athletes and promoting the games. She coordinates the Chattanooga district and co-coordinates the Nashville district. She hosts recruiting events to increase participation in the games and helps design t-shirts and slogans to support her efforts. She also serves on the TSO board of directors. In addition, Kelly is credited with fueling the popularity of pickleball in Chattanooga and in the games.

“We started pickleball at the Frances Wyatt Community Center because the Senior Olympics wanted each district to do a workshop introducing the sport,” Kelly says. “I learned the sport and then taught a workshop of about 30 people. We kept seeing more and more people sign up. At last year’s games, pickelball had over 500 participants.”

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