UMSL scholars Kathleen Haywood and Hal Harris won a gold medal on May 27 while competing in the mixed doubles tennis competition at the 32nd annual St. Louis Senior Olympics.

Already used to success in the classroom, two University of Missouri–St. Louis faculty members brought home the gold May 27 at the 32nd annual St. Louis Senior Olympics.

Kathleen Haywood, interim dean of the College of Education, and Hal Harris, associate professor of chemistry and education, paired up to face off against competitors in a mixed doubles tennis match at Creve Coeur (Mo.) Racquet Club.

Haywood and Harris, who have never practiced together, played during the St. Louis Senior Olympics last year and won a silver medal. Haywood said this year’s gold was a nice improvement.

She’s been playing tennis regularly for more than 30 years and said the competition was tough.

“My experience with Senior Olympics is that even though there aren’t a large number of mixed doubles teams, the competition is very stiff and at a high level for seniors,” she said. “While it is nice to win, I think most of us think it is just great to be able to play. So, I appreciated being healthy enough to enter and be competitive. Mostly I should say that Hal Harris is pretty incredible.”

Harris, who has also played in the singles events the last few years, started playing tennis when he was 50 years old.

“It is enjoyable to test your athletic skills against people your own age, and participants in the Olympics are generally very nice and good sports,” Harris said.

He said he enjoys playing and hopes to keep Haywood as a partner for next year.

“She is the better player of the two of us,” Harris said.

St. Louis Senior Olympics promotes the health and wellness of men and women 50 years of age and older by providing them opportunities to participate in competitive sports and social events. With the help of 400 volunteers, more than 1,300 athletes are able to participate in 85 events over Memorial Day Weekend each year.

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Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton