Brunswick County Seniors Headed to National Senior Games
Age is just a number, and seniors all over Brunswick County are proving that. You only need to look at the recent North Carolina Senior Games awards to see the dazzling way Brunswick County seniors represent themselves.
Every year since 1989, Brunswick County Parks and Recreation has hosted Senior Games for local athletes and artists. Held every year all across Brunswick County, competitors can enter by logging on to bcparks.recdesk.com. The games showcase talent and have a lot of healthy competition, but they are also simply fun. At the last games, 259 residents from all over the county participated in the 28th Annual BC Gator Senior Games & Silver Arts.
Teams and organizations train for this event and the excitement at the games is real. It is a wonderful opportunity for seniors across the county to come together and share their accomplishments and talents.
“We feel it is important to create a positive experience for all participants whether it is their 1st year or 20th year of being involved in Senior Games,” says Khrystye Haselden, the 50+ Programs Coordinator, Brunswick County Parks and Recreation Coordinator, Brunswick County Gator Senior Games and SilverArts. “We come together for the competition (and believe me at times it can be intense!) and we know that being active and social is vital to healthy aging. But it is in the coming together, a special kind of community is created, an atmosphere of family, that embodies the true spirit of Senior Games.’”
Brunswick County isn’t the only area to organize such a tournament. In total, there are 54 regions across the state that have Senior Games. Winners from these local competitions go on to represent their county or region on the state level.
This year the North Carolina Senior Games were held in September primarily in the Triangle region (although certain competitions, such as golf, were moved elsewhere) over the course of 19 days. There were over 3,000 registered participants in over 70 sports and arts activities.
“Since the inaugural State Finals in 1985 to the present, this event has become a celebration in the truest sense of the word,” says Lynn Harrell, Associate Director of the NC Senior Games. “It provides individuals, from participants to volunteers, an opportunity to showcase their talents, enjoy being active, renew old skills and learn new ones. Perhaps most important of all, it allows people of all ages to join together in what has come to be called the Senior Games Family.”
Despite the large size of the competition pool, Brunswick County sent 86 senior athletes who came home with a combined total of 97 awards. The entire Brunswick County team won 24 Gold, 13 Silver, and 43 Bronze medals.
The skills displayed were in a variety of sports and skills including tennis, table tennis, running, woodworking, bowling, cycling, basketball, bocce, croquet, short story, shuffleboard, football throwing, softball and swimming. Brunswick County senior athletes even brought home awards in Cheerleading thanks to the popular cheerleading team, The Gatorettes, and Line Dancing in a Large Group. Residents across the county will be happy to know that the seniors also excelled at the sport so popular in our area: pickleball.
Some Brunswick County seniors will be invited to compete at the National Senior Games, held in in Birmingham, Alabama this June. While National Senior Games are held only every other year, this year is particularly meaningful as it is the 30th anniversary of the games.
And don’t scoff at these athletes, either. Just because they are seniors, those competing on the national field are formidable. For example, Dottie Gray (91) from Saint Louis, Missouri, has been competing in senior games since 1987. Gray still runs an average of three 5Ks a month and captured the world record as the first 90-year-old woman to complete a 5,000-meter race. The talent our Brunswick County seniors will be up against is fierce and experienced.
Yet Haselden isn’t worried.
“Our Brunswick County athletes have proven they can hold their own at the National Level. We historically have athletes who finish in the top tier of competitors. But it is not solely about winning. They have worked for the honor of not only representing Brunswick County, but the state of North Carolina. The opportunity to compete among the best of the best in the Nation is an experience in itself.”
For example, Brunswick County’s very own Ken Weyman has competed several times at Nationals. In 2015, he came in 4th 100yd freestyle for men ages 75-79, 3rd in 50yd and 200yd freestyle, and 2nd in 500yd freestyle. Set in 2014, he holds the NC Senior Games state record for the 500 yd freestyle event for men ages 75-79.
“If you rest you rust,” Weyman says. “So it is important for all seniors to keep on moving. The competition is inspiring to see people of all ages enjoying themselves and competing in activities they love.”
If you are an athlete or artist over 50 years old by December 31, 2017, don’t miss your opportunity to get involved in the next BC Senior Games and Silver Arts! The deadline for registration for this year’s games is March 24 and interested applicants can sign up at bcparks.recdesk.com or click to use this form to register.