by LaTanya K. Turner
Isle of Wight County Parks and Recreation
2016 VRPS Vice President
…And I do, love the Virginia Senior Games
I started volunteering for the Virginia Senior Games back in 2006. Virginia Beach was hosting the games and I helped with the officiating of the horseshoe tournament. While I was there I also had the opportunity to check out some of the basketball games. At the time, I was surprised at the athleticism displayed and delighted by the enthusiasm of the participants. Up to that point most of my recreation experiences involved children or teens, I hadn’t experienced the senior population much.
Fast forward a few years and I was working with seniors, and we had our own local Senior Games! As a Parks and Rec professional and a track coach I was so excited to put two things I love together for the good of the citizens I was serving. Seniors came from all over the area to compete, have lunch and share a laugh. They walked, ran, threw the shot put, discus, and javelin and they had a grand time doing it. Some were there just for our games and some were there to practice for the “big dance”- the Virginia Senior Games. As you know, this is not a shy retiring group of folks, and the “retiring” part only refers to where they may be in this stage of their life! They are fierce competitors and some are more determined than ANY youth I’ve ever seen compete.
When the Games came to Newport News I knew it was my chance to help out again as it was in my area. I met people from all over Virginia - they came from near and far, and I enjoyed hearing of their journey to the Games and what led them to participate. As I was checking in the runners for the 50m dash, I spoke to a lady 94 years young; she said she had been competing for some time and she liked to tell people she was competing so she could see the look on their faces! The competitors range in age from 50 to infinity and are a very diverse population.
Last year, in 2015, I had the opportunity to be the “Voice of the Senior Games” …well ok, of the Track and Field portion… (self-proclaimed) and I had a blast! The spirit of competition, the pushing beyond boundaries, the teaming up with friends, the families that come to cheer them on, and the Athletes Party! (so much fun it could be its own post J), make this one of the highlights of the year, and definitely a highlight for me. If you are in the area, come on out, commit to volunteer or sign up (2020 billiards here I come!). You really don’t know what you are missing!