By Sherrie Norris
Registration has begun for one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for senior adults in the High Country region. Drawing dozens of participants to various local venues annually, The High Country Senior Games is set to kick off May 1 for a busy schedule of events for those 50 and above.
Now in its 29th year, The High Country Senior Games provides a variety of opportunities for seniors interested in everything from physical fitness and sports to literary and performing arts and many in between.
Adults who are 50 or older (as of December 31, 2017) and who own property in, or live in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey or Ashe counties — for at least three months out of the year— are eligible to participate.
It’s not just about promoting health and fitness, said event organizers, but also about bringing seniors together for a good time and much-needed fellowship.
A favorite aspect of the Senior Games for local event coordinator Paul Krause is that “ it is for everybody and it almost tricks you into being healthy and well.”
“You can be a competitive athlete or a leisure player of games, you can try activities for the first time or train for the events all year long; you can be a musician, comedian, performer, woodworker, artist or athlete,” Krause said. “Regardless, we have an activity for you to focus on the five F’s of Senior Games: fitness, fun, fellowship, family, and friends!”
In everything that he has seen with participants — and even his close family members — Krause said, “You don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing! Come never stop playing with us!”
Helpful tips for participants
Events offered during the Senior Games fall into the following categories:
Individual sports (such as basketball shooting, shot-put, jumping, throws, running, cycling and golf), swimming, team sports (basketball, volleyball), bowling, tennis and tournament sports billiards, corn hole, croquet, pickle ball, table tennis, shuffleboard and racquetball); special events will include a fun walk, as well as Silver Arts – heritage, visual, performing, literary and contemporary.
Participants will be assigned to their chosen activity per age group, determined by their age on December 31, 2017. Men and women compete in separate categories in the following five year age groups: 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, 95-99, 100-plus.
For doubles and team events, the category will be determined based on the age of the youngest participant.
Early-bird registration, on or before May 1, will be available at a discounted price of $10; otherwise, registration is $15. Participants must register no less than three days prior to the first event in which he or she wants to participate. Registration will only be accepted after May 1 based on open spaces for the events.
The entry fee covers all events except for a facility fee charged for the following: golf ($26), bowling ($9.50/event), mini golf ($6) and the banquet ($10 in advance or $15 at the door). These facility fees will be paid on site the day of the event.
Participants are required to supply their own equipment for golf, tennis, pickle ball and racquet ball.
Official medals will be presented to the first, second and third- place finalists in each category in each sport and in the Silver Arts competition.
A Breakfast for Champions will serve as the official kick off to this year’s Senior Games on Friday, May 4, at 8 a.m. at Appalachian Brian Estates in Boone. Breakfast is free for all registered games participants. Silver Arts entries will be displayed at the breakfast, and immediately following at 10 a.m., horseshoes and corn hole tournaments begin.
Check-in will begin at participant’s first event, which requires individuals to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled start time. At that time, participants will receive a T- shirt, registration packet and schedule of events.
The Senior Games Grand Celebration Banquet is always a highlight of the event and will be held Tuesday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock. Tickets are available in advance for $10 ($15 at the door). Special entertainment will include performances by your very own High Country Silver Artists.
The High Country is known for sending qualifying individuals to the NC Senior Games, which this year, slated for September, is a qualifying year for the National Senior Olympics, which have also been represented by the High Country in years past.
Proud sponsors of the 2018 High Country Senior Games include: Watauga County Parks and Recreation, Appalachian Brian Estates, Hardees, Adult Services Coalition of Watauga County, Life Care Center of Banner Elk, Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living, Humana, Carolina Barbecue, Appalachian Ski Mountain, Proper, Precision Printing, LifeStore, Omega Tees & Screen Printing.
Local Senior Centers help coordinate the event, according to Krause “and do a phenomenal job of working with the High Country Senior Games.”
To register to participate in the Senior Games, fill out an entry form, available at local senior centers, at the Parks and Recreation office in Boone or online, and submit it with complete payment. Participants will be contacted by mail May 5.
To register for the breakfast and/or banquet, call Krause at 828-264-9511. For more information, in general, call the same number or visit torch.ncseniorgames.org, follow on Facebook and Twitter.
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