A 90-Year-Old Track and Field Sensation

Fitness, Motivation, Senior Health
on July 17, 2013

Name: Hazel Trexler-Campbell
Age: 90
Event(s): Track & Field

At an age where most of her peers have eased themselves into rocking chairs, 90-year-old Hazel Trexler-Campbell of Salisbury, N.C., refuses to wind down. This summer, the lifelong sports fanatic is gearing up for her 13th National Senior Games and expects to compete in many more to come. “Lord willing, I’ll keep competing as long as I can. I’ve realized that being active is what’s important as you get older,” Hazel says. “It helps you survive.”

Hazel has always recognized the benefits of being active. Growing up on a small farm with eight children, Hazel and her brothers played horseshoes on Sunday afternoons to pass the time. But it wasn’t until she joined her high school basketball team that Hazel discovered her true passion for sports. “I think I would’ve been a dropout if I hadn’t picked up basketball,” she says. “It kept me interested in school.”

Seventy-some years later, Hazel’s enthusiasm for sports hasn’t faltered the slightest bit. This July, she is bringing her athletic skills to Cleveland, Ohio, for the National Senior Games, where she will compete in the discus, shot put, long jump and 100-meter dash. Although eager to win, Hazel says that she is mostly excited for the experience of traveling to a different part of the country and meeting new people. “I am competitive in a way, but it doesn’t upset me if I don’t win,” she says. “When I played basketball in high school, we got a trophy for sportsmanship and that meant more to me than getting first place. I’ve always been that way. I just enjoy playing, whether I win or lose.”

Hazel’s husband, Vince, 69, will also be competing at the Games in the Men’s Singles Shuffleboard pool. The couple has made it a joint priority to stay active as they age. Every week, Hazel and Vince play mixed doubles in their local table tennis league. “I feel better after I play a good table tennis match,” Hazel says. “It gets the blood flowing.”

Whether she’s tap-dancing, charging down the basketball court or throwing a discus, Hazel credits her continued athletic endeavors with keeping her alive. Sports don’t just keep her physically strong—they imbue her life with fullness. “I see a lot of women my age just sitting around all day,” the spry 90-year-old says. “There’s a reason that I am so involved in sports. It gives me something to work towards, something to look forward to. If you don’t have something interesting going on day-to-day, life can be very boring. You’ve got to find something that makes you happy.”