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Bloomington woman takes on Senior Games, and challenges others
When Pam Gilliatt’s former physical education teacher and mentor died in 2012, Gilliatt became despondent.
“I was grief stricken and didn’t know what I would do without her,” said Gilliatt, a 69-year-old Bloomington resident. “I just lay on the couch and looked at her picture.”
Patricia Fehl was Gilliatt’s PE teacher at University School, where Gilliatt excelled in track, softball, volleyball, basketball, field hockey and deck tennis. But Fehl was much more than her teacher.
“She guided me through everything in high school,” Gilliatt said. “She believed in me more than I believed in myself. It was almost like a mother/daughter relationship. And after I graduated from high school in 1961 and she moved away, we kept in touch through letters.”
Last summer Gilliatt heard about the Senior Games, a competition sponsored by several agencies for those 50 and older featuring dozens of athletic events—everything from track and field to bowling and football toss.
“I decided to turn the negativity of Patricia’s death into positive energy,” she said. “I decided to enter the Senior Games as a way of honoring her.”
Gilliatt, who taught PE herself in elementary schools for 25 years, began training at the Brown County High School—running around the track and throwing softballs and footballs.
Then she spent two weeks competing in the games, winning gold, silver or bronze medals in each of the 16 events she entered in the 65-69 age group—making her the top point winner among all the female Senior Games participants.
“I hadn’t raced since high school, so when everyone lined up at the starting line for my first race and a woman next to me bent over, I asked her if she was tying her shoelace,” Gilliatt said. “She said she was getting ready for the gun to go off, so I thought, ‘Wow! This is for real.’”
Gilliatt said she not only will compete again in this summer’s Senior Games, but has recruited several friends to do likewise.
“I really hope reading about me in the paper will encourage other seniors to get involved in the games,” she said. “It’s really a lot of fun.”