The spirit of the games
"Let the games begin!" shouted a crowd of participants and volunteers during the Senior Games Opening Ceremony for sporting events at the Rutherford County Senior Center on Thursday morning.
Over the next few weeks, seniors will participate in various sporting events including bowling, bocce, tennis, badminton, billiards, a football throw, horseshoes, croquet, shuffleboard and archery, among others.
"This is the 30th year of the Senior Games at the state level, and the Senior Center here is not far behind that number," said Barbara Hill, Senior Games Coordinator. "We've been working up to this kickoff pep rally to get us pumped for a long time. I'm excited for this year's events and I hope all the participants enjoy themselves."
This year's games have 98 participants in sporting events and 43 in art events, including a record 28 first-time participants.
"We are glad to have everyone who is participating in the games," said Crystal Upton, Senior Games Assistant Coordinator. "Some individuals are even participating in all three portions of the games."
Hill shared participant numbers she is proud of in this year's sporting events, including 23 people who signed up for the SilverStriders fun walk, 11 for archery, 28 for mixed doubles bowling, 31 for singles bowling and 24 for putt-putt.
"To all the participants, because of all of you, I get to be involved and do what I love to do," Hill said. "I applaud all of you for your commitment to these Senior Games. A body in motion will remain in motion."
During the Opening Ceremony, Mike Campfield led the crowd in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," while kickoff cheers were provided by Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy cheerleaders to pump the participants up.
Upton also encouraged participants by sharing a story of a 95-year-old bowler in Spartanburg, S.C., who recently scored a perfect game. When asked what the secret was to his success, Upton said he replied to not strive for the high score, but that enjoying the game is the most important part.
"I was thinking what I could say to encourage you all in these games, and I hope that everyone can learn something from his story and look up to him," Upton said. "You're never too old to participate and never too old to keep going."
To motivate the seniors to keep moving, Zumba instructor Wavolyn Norville led the participants in a short routine during the Opening Ceremony.
"To me, age is just a number. I am thankful for my health like many of you, and I am blessed that I'm able to teach others because it allows me to have fun in life and for me to share my testimony with you," Norville told the seniors. "Zumba has been very rewarding for me, and I've gotten the pleasure to work with many of you. I think we're all on the same path today, and that is for you seniors. Who doesn't enjoy being at a pep rally?"
The Senior Games are sponsored by numerous individuals and businesses who contribute donations and provide their facilities during the games.
"We had a record number of sponsors this year, and they allow us to continue growing our games each year," Hill said. "They believe in you all and this program."
The Opening Ceremony concluded and the Senior Games officially began with the lighting of the torch by Sylvester McDowell, a Senior Games participant.