After early sacrifices, New Kent man lives Olympics dream decades later
It’s never too late to live a dream if one truly pursues it. For a New Kent resident, after sacrificing time to serve his county, he is living his desires through the Senior Olympics.
Fred Matthies put his Olympic desires on hold, only to see them emerge in his latter years. And that patience has resulted in several medals and a trip to the Senior National Olympics in June.
Matthies journey began in Redwood Estates, California, with dreams of participating in the world competition after having a successful career in the long jump event. However, he decided to join the United States Navy, serving as a Mustang Officer. From there, he entered the field of education, serving seven years as a teacher before moving up to the position of Vice-Principal.
The journey continued for Matthies with an eight-year stint as a park ranger. During that time, he saved a man’s life and used his athleticism to rescue him.
As dictated by his desire to always complete and accomplish a goal, Matthies went back to school in his late-30s. That decision was a result of him marrying his wife, with the team working together as he earned Masters’ degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk and Navy War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Matthies’ dream returned to him as a possibility thanks to his interactions in the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs in New Kent. At those interactions was when the now 71-year old learned about the Virginia Senior Olympics. He would enter the fifty and over division, earning a total of 10 medals with most of them being gold. A trip to the national event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, resulted in competition against the best older adults in America. And while he didn’t finish where he wanted, he had realistic expectations and believed that comes from having a disciplined mind.
Fred’s son, Eric, said that he was happy that his father chased his dream after sacrificing so much for him in his younger years.
“He’s not a man of 1,000 words; he’s a man of his own actions,” Eric said. “He had goals and wrote them down. He said without writing them down you’re just chasing a dream.
“He developed a plan and you can’t escape that,” the son continued. “Once you have a goal, you must be resourceful and do what it takes to get across the finish line.”
The elder Matthies made no excuses with his plans, seeing a vision and recognizing his goal. He never gave up on a dream and never made giving up an option, signaling to him and his family that passing down goals is there to leave a positive legacy for the next generation. More-so, even at his advanced age, dreams and goals can be attainable and can be done, no matter what obstacles stand in your path.