By Kirk Kern
John Rosen had a lot of ideas when he joined the board of directors for Mesquite Senior Games in 2019.
The spring schedule was well underway in February of 2020, but by March the Games had shut down, just like pretty much everything else not only in Mesquite but across the country.
“It was very challenging,” Rosen said. “We had set up and planned for an entire spring season, had already started and some sports were complete. We had registered applicants for other events. Then we had to shut everything down. We had to refund money. We had to figure out a way to pay expenses that we weren’t able to recover.”
Not only that, but the preliminary work they had done for a new fall schedule was put in limbo.
“Everyone was worried about it,” he said. “We could see things happening. (NCAA basketball tournament) March Madness was a big eye opener for us.”
Rosen took over as president of the board of directors when Herb Calhoun retired in May of 2020. Although he hadn’t competed much in the Mesquite Senior Games, he was very familiar with the organization by way of being an active pickleball player in Sun City.
He also brought a lot of sports administration experience as he was the Chairman Emeritus and Interim CEO of USA Bobsled and Skeleton, which is the National Governing Body that oversees the sport that is part of the Winter Olympics every four years.
Interestingly enough, Rosen hasn’t ever competed in bobsled or skeleton. He was living near Salt Lake City around the time of the Olympics took place in 2002 and was interested in volunteering. His wife at the time worked for a man who was an official of bobsled and skeleton events so they decided to check it out.
They loved it.
They continued to officiate these events, including at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler, Canada, and the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. In addition to officiating races, John served on the Board of Directors of USA Bobsled Skeleton from 2007 – 2015, was elected as Chairman of the Board in 2009, and named Chairman Emeritus upon the completion of his term limit in 2015. He was also asked to serve as the interim CEO of the organization for a six-month period in September 2019 while the USABS board searched for a new permanent CEO of the organization.
Rosen, 72, bought his home in Mesquite in 2013 and moved to town permanently in 2014. Like many who move to the area, he discovered the game of pickleball and was hooked.
“When I moved here, I never even heard of pickleball,” he said. ”I was driving down the road and saw a sign.”
He started playing regularly and joined the Sun City Pickleball Club. Eventually, he was running the club’s tournaments. That introduced him to MSG Executive Director Amy Bradshaw and running pickleball events for the senior games. In 2019, a spot opened up on the board of directors and Bradshaw talked Rosen into joining.
One of the first things he did was help modernize the scoring system of the organization’s data registration system to help determine event winners in a timely fashion.
“We can now typically announce winners and give awards within five to ten minutes of the completion of the competition,” he said.
This fall, the plans that Rosen and Bradshaw tried to put into place for a full fall season will come to fruition. Beginning Aug. 7, the senior games will host a summer bowling tournament. Beginning in October, there will be men’s softball, bocce ball, target pistol and shotgun sports, horseshoes, golf, bridge, pickleball, poker, bicycle racing, basketball skills and a history tour. November planned events include corn hole, table tennis and winter bowling.
“Amy and I had formed a strong partnership to grow the senior games,” Rosen said. “We are clearly re-energizing that plan. We’re intent to have a full and complete fall schedule.”