NEW BRITAIN â€“Â The Nutmeg Games and the Connecticut Mastersâ€™ Games will be hosting its 27th annual Directors Club Banquet Thursday, Oct. 7 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plainville.
Over 250 people are expected to attend this yearâ€™s events. The Master of Ceremonies has been announced to be comedian and actor Tom Cotter with the keynote speaker being former NFL player and radio host Tom Cotter.
Â The Nutmeg State Games as well as the Connecticut Mastersâ€™ Games are designed to promote healthy, active lifestyles in their athletes, along with building leadership and sportsmanship qualities in young and mature adults.
Each year, over 10,000 athletes of all ages and skill levels travel from all areas to participate in numerous team and individual competitive sport competitions in state games events.
The Nutmeg State Games and the Connecticut Mastersâ€™ Games recognize outstanding individuals that have excelled in their events and showed the spirit of the games in both on and off the field events every year. The 2020 Athlete of the Year recipients who will be recognized at the Directors Club Banquet are Destiny Mateo of Manchester and Barbara Lisehora-Markelz of Fairfield.
Destiny Mateo is an extremely accomplished multi-sport athlete and a diligent student, having recently graduated from Norwich Free Academy in the top-10 of her class with honors. Destiny has participated in the Nutmeg State Games since 2013 and has been involved in sports for even longer, having been in judo competitions since the age of seven.
Her first taste of the Nutmeg Games was at the age of nine, where she won gold in her judo division. Since then she has taken silver and bronze in 2014, gold and silver in 2015 and gold across two divisions in 2016 and 2017. Outside of Nutmeg competition she travels with USAâ€™s judo team, and has finished third in the Pan American Judo Championship in 2015 and second in the US Open for judo in 2015, both when she was 11 years old.
On top of her judo experience Mateo is an experienced wrestler, winning back-to-back Girls Connecticut Wrestling Championships in 2016 and 2017. As the only girl in the 2018 Nutmeg Gamesâ€™ wrestling tournament, she finished fifth, and then came back a year later to take silver as once again the only girl in the field.
The 2020 Connecticut Mastersâ€™ Games CT Athlete of The Year is Fairfieldâ€™s Lisehora-Markelz.
66 year old Lisehora-Markelz is recognized for work in three sports, softball, basketball and pickleball, a mix that has helped keep her committed to a healthy lifestyle while also competing.
A longtime physical education teacher, Lisehora-Markelz retired in 2020. On top of her work sheâ€™s been a masters athlete and has competed in the National Senior Games.
Â In her competition, she has received 15 medals in total at the Mastersâ€™ Games, and has won three gold medals in softball in the National Senior Games, one gold medal in basketball at the Senior games and one silver medal in the sprint triathlon in the Senior games as well.
Â In 2018, Lisehora-Markelz competed in three pickleball events in the Mastersâ€™ Games, taking home two gold medals and a Silver. Her first National Games was in 2013, where she won gold in softball.
Notably, Lisehora-Markelzâ€™s story is about her ability to persevere and overcome an injury she sustained on the job. A head injury caused neurological damage in 2019, and received care and treatment to improve her condition dramatically, and has cited sports being one of the cures in her path to recovery.
Determined to recover, she committed to an increased amount of physical activity five days a week. Post-injury she came back full circle, competing with her sisters in the team spring triathlon, swimming 400 yards to help her team a medal in a competition in New Mexico.