The Odessa Record -

Catching up with a former Odessa Tiger


Last updated 9/2/2018 at 3:31pm

Jon Heimbigner.

After a successful career in banking, 70-year-old Jon Heimbigner has kept busy in retirement pursuing volunteer work in the areas of athletic halls of fame and engaging older athletes in the sports activities that keep them young and active.

Heimbigner grew up on a wheat farm located between Odessa and Ritzville. He attended school in Ritzville until his father Jonah Heimbigner, also a long-time supporter of athletics, accepted a teaching job in the Odessa School District. After that Jon and his three younger brothers attended school in Odessa, where Jon graduated in 1966. As an Odessa Tiger he participated in multiple sports.

Three of the those sports he has continued to pursue even into retirement – basketball, softball and running track. He runs about 100 miles each month and, fortunately, has joints that have held up very well over the years.

On July 20-22, Heimbigner, acting as an organizer, player and coach, took four senior basketball teams to the 22nd annual Washington State Senior Games at various locations in the South Puget Sound area, where nearly 2,000 athletes aged 50 to 100 took part. His four teams included former local high school and college players, all wanting to keep playing for the love of the game.

The Senior Games is an all-volunteer 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that encourages healthy activity and camaraderie through athletic competition.

The Papermill Printing team consisting of Harvey DePew, Terry Nealey, Mike Etter, Tedd Nealey and Jon Heimbigner were champions once again in 2018 in the 70-74 age group at the Washington State Senior Games held in the Puget Sound area in July. These fellows have never lost their love of sports or the joy they find in friendly competition.

In 1998, Heimbigner's team placed second in the world, playing 5-on-5 basketball. The four senior teams in four different age groups that played in July played 3-on-3 ball.

Heimbigner played in the oldest age division (70-74) with former Spokane Community College player Harvey DePew of Spokane, Mike Etter of Spokane and twin brothers Terry Nealey of Dayton and Tedd Nealey of Endicott. Heimbigner's teams (in which he played or coached) have an overall record of 112-30, winning 32 golds, three silvers and one bronze medal.

Just days later, July 26-29, at Eastern Washington University's Roos Field, the USA Track and Field Masters Outdoor Championships were held, with participation by more than 900 of the U.S. and world's best track and field athletes. Among those athletes were 112 from Washington state, 19 from the Spokane area.

After adopting a training regimen for about three months leading up to the meet, Jon Heimbigner entered the 80-meter hurdles event and finished in first place in a time of 16.5 seconds.


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