I became interested in the games when I learned in early summer that the district games would be at the Jacksonville Community Center. Wanting to do an article on the event I inquired into it and found out that last year a 5K had been added to the games. I also learned that one need not be associated with the Senior Center to participate, in fact the age has been lowered in the games to 50 to encourage more people to get involved.
Knowing this, I thought to myself, “Why not participate and do an article from a first-hand experience basis.” Besides, running was involved and that’s really all that was needed to get me hooked.
Soon I found that there were other events that I might as well enter as well. In fact, there were a lot of events to include, basketball free throw, softball throw, Frisbee throw, football, billiards, bowling, golf, horseshoes, swimming, tennis, table tennis as well as Rook, Dominos and checkers.
I decided to do Frisbee, football, basketball, softball and of course, the 5K.
Now, I consider myself somewhat talented athletically, after all I had seven brothers, eight athletic children and have kept active. Imagine my humiliation then when the very first time I threw the Frisbee, sitting in a chair 15 feet away from a hoop I made only 2-of-8 attempts. I mean my Frisbee was going everywhere. I was schooled by a woman in her late 70’s who sat down and made 6-of-8!
At the basketball court, I practiced one day with Sue Campeaux, who has won the gold medal in basketball free throw the last five years, and while I had no trouble rebounding for her as each shot hit its mark, she was running all over the court getting my ball as it careened off the rim.
In other words, what I’m trying to say is that these older athletes practice, in fact, they practice at Jacksonville 10 months out of the year.
In July at the District competition, only the top three in each event went on to the State competition. OK, by this time I had learned my lesson and I had practiced and was fortunate to go to the state games.
Andrea Morris, Interim Director of the Senior Center says that the Masters Games are very big at the senior center. “This year was the least amount of people that we have taken to the Games,” said Morris. “We do win a lot of medals. This is a great experience, a great opportunity. I believe we practice more than most, especially Frisbee and football which we practice a lot. We start in January and go through October taking November and December off.”
Morris stressed that they would love to see more in the 50 age group participate. “We are trying to pull more of the baby-boomers in. The key is to just stay active. There is a misconception that you have to be involved with the senior center but you don’t need to have any affiliation with the center other than just going as part of District 4.”
I had been warned that competition at the state level was intense, and so it was. Over 500 master athletes participated. Somehow I made it to finals in the 55-59 age group in Frisbee and was pitted against one of our own, Debra Brown. We tied 7-of-8 from 15 feet, moved to 20 feet where we tied 2-of-3 and then at 25 feet I finally somehow prevailed. Now, if you think its easy, try sitting in a chair and throwing a Frisbee through a hoop 25-feet away-it’s not easy!!!
The competition lasts four days. At night, with the event having been held in Valley, it was fun going to the lobby of the hotel and seeing everyone playing Rook, dominoes and checkers and just having a good time. These people look forward every year to this competition for the camaraderie and the social interaction.
One more story, in basketball I was sitting next to a woman who was 79-years old. (Each competition is broken up into 5-year age groups). When I told her this was my first competition she offered me words of advice, “Just stay focused, don’t bounce it off the backboard but shoot in an arc and let it fall through and you’ll be fine.” This sweet lady hadn’t practiced for months and months taking care of her 50-year old daughter who had heart surgery. She hit 13-of-21 and took home the bronze medal!
Here are the results from Jacksonville:
85-89 Estelle Lee 2nd football throw
75-79 Bill Sparrowhawk 2nd table tennis; 2nd Dominoes singles, walking medal
70-74 Henry Campeaux 3rd football throw, 2nd Frisbee, walking medal
65-69 Jane Sparrowhawk 2nd basketball free throw, 1st football throw, 2nd table tennis, 3rd shuffleboard, walking medal
65-69 Sue Campeaux 1st basketball free throw, 1st Frisbee, 2nd shuffleboard, walking medal
65-69 James Snow 1st Football throw, 3rd softball throw
60-64 Billy Fowler 1st Football throw, 3rd Frisbee, 1st horseshoes, 3rd shuffleboard, 2nd table tennis, walking medal
55-59 Debra Brown 2nd Frisbee Throw
55-59 Sylvia Childs 2nd Softball throw, walking medal
55-59 Lori Tippets 1st basketball free throw, 1st softball throw, 1st Frisbee throw, 1st football, 1st 5K, walking medal
Janice Clay and Judy Williams also were awarded walking medals
So, if you are over 50 consider participating in the Masters Games next year. You won’t have far to go if you make it to the state level as next year the competition will be held in Oxford.
The most important thing, just stay active. I live with a doctor who loves to say, “Motion is lotion!” A word to the wise though…practice.