By Ken Reed

More than 60% of Americans tend to make New Year’s resolutions. Often those resolutions include exercise, fitness, and sports goals.

In an effort to help inspire Americans to commit to meeting their personal goals for the new year, League of Fans is highlighting two inspiring athletes who don’t fit the stereotypical definition of “elite athlete.”

Meet Dan Durante. Durante is a 70-year-old world-class sprinter who regularly knocks off 50 pull-ups in 60 seconds. As part of a fundraiser for Liberty High School in the Washington D.C. area, Durante challenged the members of Liberty’s football team to beat him in a pull-up competition. None of the football players that are more than 50 years younger than Durante came close. On this day, Durante did 39 pull-ups in 53 seconds. The best Liberty football player did 26.

Durante is a physical fitness advocate at a time when it’s sorely needed in the United States. Fewer than 15 percent of people over the age of 65 do regular strength training. Strength training at age 65-plus is especially important to help ward off falls, osteoporosis, obesity, etc.

Both cardiovascular and strength training exercise are important for quality of life reasons for seniors.

“There’s life after 20,” says Durante.

Meet Zach Hodskins. Hodskins is a senior guard on the Milton High School (Georgia) basketball team. He’s good enough at his sport that the University of Florida has guaranteed him a spot on its roster for next season. Hodskins story isn’t that unique, except for the fact that he only has one hand.

Hodskins was born without a left hand or forearm. But he’s never wanted any special treatment. Growing up, he worked on his game until the fingers on his right hand bled from his solo workouts.

“I never doubted myself, even though a lot of people did,” says Hodskins.

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan said he isn’t bringing Hodskins to his program as a publicity stunt but because the kid can play.

Donovan told Hodskins family: “We’re first and foremost recruiting you as a player. You are an inspiration, but you are here because you’re a good basketball player.”

Durante and Hodskins. Two inspiring athletes who could help all of us keep our 2014 resolutions.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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