Edward and Antonia Mose have competed in the Senior Olympics since 2000, but if it weren’t for Antonia Mose’s triple bypass heart surgery in 2004, then shuffleboard may have been lost in the shuffle.
“It was right around Easter time that year and we still went to the State Olympics that year,” Edward Mose said. “We decided to do shuffleboard because she could still stand and didn’t have to run. We did fairly good, so we decided to stay in it.”
The Moses, who hail from Medanales, have become friends with Babbie and Joseph Cortez from Tierra Azul, who have learned shuffleboard strictly from the Moses.
“They took us under their wing and showed us how to play,” Babbie Cortez said. “I give my ability to play a lot to Mr. Mose because I listened to him, a lot. He’s very, very competitive, even when we are just here fooling around or practicing, he always takes it very seriously.”
While Babbie Cortez has participated in the Senior Olympics for six years, her husband is entering his 14th year, after starting at the age of 50, which is the youngest age a competitor can be.
Joseph Cortez’s passion is running, which he has competed in since his high school days at Questa and Los Alamos High School. This year, he will compete in the 5 and 10K and track and field events from the 1500 meters, all the way down to the 100.
“I’ve been running all my life,” he said. “I was just running one day and my friend, Joe Ortega, said ‘Why don’t you join the Senior Olympics?’ I said ‘How old do you have to be?’ Fifty-years-old was the age-limit, so I joined right away.”
Joseph Cortez is a retired electrical engineer from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who spent his 1-hour lunch breaks pacing around the facility.
“I would tell people ‘My husband is Joe,’” Babbie Cortez said. “Then I’d have to say, ‘He’s the one who runs around in the funny looking camouflage, floppy hat.’ Then people knew who I was talking about.”
Joseph Cortez calls running a habit, but compares it interestingly, to drinking.
“It’s like being an alcoholic,” he said. “You know you’re going to hurt the next day, but you still go do it anyways.”
Now the Moses and the Cortezes will have high aspirations at this year’s New Mexico Senior Olympics, Wednesday (7/18) through Saturday.
The 2018 state games will serve as a qualifying event for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana, which will also be held in Albuquerque.
“It’s almost kind of embarrassing if you don’t make it (to nationals),” Babbie Cortez said. “You’ve been working so hard and it’s (in) your state, so you want to do nothing but qualify for nationals.”
Out of all the expected competitors to be in Albuquerque this week, 45 will be officially coming from Rio Arriba County. 27 others from the county will be present, according to Edward Mose.
“The state changed the rules now,” he said. “You used to have to qualify through your county, but you don’t have to anymore. They didn’t want to pay the 20 bucks to qualify through the county, they’ll go straight to state.”
The Senior Olympics hosts 24 total events, 18 which are qualifying events for the 2019 nationals. The Moses compete in couples dancing, but it is one of the events that isn’t a national qualifier.
“Since the dancing doesn’t qualify for nationals, we’ll be mostly focused on shuffleboard,” Edward Mose said.
Edward Mose said if shuffleboard runs overtime, there’s no question about what their priority will be.
“We’ve already decided on that,” he said. “If it comes between the shuffleboard or going to the dance, we’ll be staying at shuffleboard.”
Both the Cortezes and the Moses are looking to finish in the top-four of their respective age groups to qualify after strong finishes last year at state.
Babbie and Joseph Cortez won the silver medal in the 55-59 age group last year, while Babbie won bronze and Joseph won gold in the 60-64 age group for singles.
Joseph Cortez is allowed to compete down an age group in doubles since his wife is 58-years-old.
Similarly, Antonia and Edward Mose won bronze in doubles and Edward won silver in singles, for the 75-79 age group.
Although the two couples admitted to the games being friendly and social, it all changes when competition begins.
“Some people say, ‘It’s just Senior Olympics, what can these old folks do?’ But you’d be surprised of the competitiveness there. A lot of them are there out for blood.”
Babbie Cortez couldn’t agree more.
“That’s the mindset you have to have to be good,” she said. “And yes, when you get over there, you’re out for blood. You’re nice with them and stuff, but you want that first place, you want that second and you want that third.”
The opening ceremonies will take place Wednesday (7/18) at 7 p.m. at Balloon Fiesta Park, where Rio Arriba County will try to win the “Spirit Award” for the fifth consecutive year, according to Babbie Cortez. The award is given to the county who is the loudest and most enthusiastic.
Antonia Mose said “doubt” is the biggest factor holding back many seniors from getting invloved in the Olympics.
“When I talk to people about joining, they say, ‘Oh, I’m not very good at this or that,’” she said. “You don’t have to be good, you’ll be competing against people your own age. Once you get out there, you’ll realize you have talent that you didn’t even know you had.”