Ron Clauser was a spring hen when he first began doing the Senior Video games 20 years in the past, falling in one of many youngest age brackets of 55-60.
It started merely sufficient, with a fellow shuffleboard participant recruiting him to provide it a attempt. Clauser was quickly all in, with the Senior Video games changing into his most eagerly anticipated time of 12 months.
“It retains you energetic, it’s a solution to meet some folks you won’t ordinarily meet, and it’s a solution to have some enjoyable,” he stated.
Clauser has participated in sundry actions through the years that he wouldn’t have tried if not for the Senior Video games, like bocce ball.
“I didn’t know the principles and had by no means performed earlier than, however somebody defined ‘That is the way you play’ and I went out and did the very best I may,” Clauser stated.
That’s, in any case, what it’s all about.
“There are all types of actions that you simply don’t should be an athlete for, like croquet and horseshoes,” stated Ruth Elson, a Haywood County Senior Video games ambassador.
Whereas the Senior Video games docket consists of conventional sports activities like observe, tennis and swimming, many of the occasions are leisure pastimes — suppose cornhole, biking, disc golf and mini golf.
Elson has even tried her hand at shot put and discus — and lo and behold gained a medal in discus the primary 12 months she gave it a whirl, metaphorically talking that’s.
“I don’t spin round and round. I simply rear again and sling,” Elson stated. “I assumed ‘You understand, there aren’t that many in my age group, so I’ll give it a attempt.’”
The perfect half about Senior Video games to Elson is the neighborhood spirit and sense of camaraderie.
“I’ve made plenty of buddies by Senior Video games through the years,” she stated.
A welcome return
The Senior Video games have been canceled final 12 months attributable to COVID. This 12 months, occasions will likely be held solely exterior, with masks and social distancing to make sure they’ll go on safely.
For Ron Clauser, the return of Senior Video games after the 12 months hiatus is a symbolic milestone.
“This can be a good instance of transitioning as a neighborhood from what we went by final 12 months,” Clauser stated. “It’s a signal we’re rising and shifting ahead after a 12 months of pandemic.”
Haywood County has a particular declare to fame as a birthplace of the Senior Video games. North Carolina was the primary state within the nation to carry Senior Video games, and Haywood was one among solely three counties within the state that participated within the pilot 12 months.
“Now they’re held in each state within the nation, however they have been actually began right here,” stated Bruce Johnson, a Haywood County Senior Recreation ambassador.
The Senior Video games are coordinated by the Haywood County Recreation division.
Ian Smith, the assistant director of Haywood County Rec, is wanting ahead to this 12 months’s Senior Video games greater than ever as a possibility for seniors who’ve spent the previous 12 months sequestered. It’s an opportunity to expertise a way of neighborhood as soon as extra in a secure and supportive outside atmosphere.
“The Haywood County Senior Video games is our greatest occasion of the 12 months, however I didn’t totally notice how vital it’s to the neighborhood till final 12 months,” Smith stated. “The absence of final 12 months’s Senior Video games was tough. We are able to’t wait to see everybody this 12 months.”
Smith personally seems ahead to the Senior Video games himself all 12 months, cherishing the relationships he’s made with contributors, sponsors and the opposite native entities that function host venues and companions.
The video games are grouped by age class in five-year increments, from 50 all the way in which as much as 100+. There could solely be three folks in an age class for a given exercise, which implies everybody medals.
“You would possibly come dwelling with a medal you by no means anticipated simply since you confirmed up,” Clauser stated.
Senior Video games contributors that do properly sufficient regionally go on to the state video games in Raleigh, and some from Haywood County invariably make all of it the way in which to nationals.
Lynn Milner was among the many Haywood cohort that made the journey to Albuquerque for nationals in 2019 after profitable desk tennis in each particular person and doubles on the state degree.
Milner’s comrade in desk tennis doubles, Ruth Elson, additionally represented Haywood at nationals for shuffleboard — stunning herself greater than anybody by inserting third within the nation for her age group. Bringing dwelling state and nationwide accolades for Haywood County is actually a novelty, however it’s the expertise that counts.
“Certain we’ve medals, however that’s not the primary cause,” Milner stated. “It’s to maintain energetic, to satisfy folks and have enjoyable. It additionally helps your psychological well being.”
Milner eagerly awaits the discharge of the Senior Video games’ schedule annually, map out which occasions she’ll do.
“I attempt to do as many as I can slot in,” she stated. A few of her go-to’s are badminton, basketball capturing, cornhole, horseshoes, minigolf, pickleball and shuffleboard. Desk tennis isn’t occurring this 12 months, as a result of it’s too tough to carry exterior.
Milner additionally does the soccer throw yearly in honor of her dad, who was knowledgeable participant for the Chicago Bears and a daily within the Senior Video games’ soccer throw in his day.
“Again when my father did Senior Video games, I assumed ‘Oh that is for previous folks,’ however now after all I notice we’re not previous,” Milner laughed.
One in all Clauser’s favourite occasions is the basketball shoot. Every participant takes the courtroom one by one and makes 18 pictures — three pictures from six totally different marked places — and the variety of baskets is tallied.
There’s simply sufficient aggressive spirit to maintain issues full of life, however for essentially the most half, gamers cheer one another on.
Silver Arts expo
The Silver Arts, a companion to the Senior Video games, is a showcase of arts and crafts endeavors, from stained glass and woodcarving to quilting and jewellery making.
Johnson’s preliminary foray into the Senior Video games was by the Silver Arts after studying an article about it in The Mountaineer a few years in the past. For Johnson, who dappled in images as a retirement passion, The Silver Arts supplied a motivational outlet to showcase his work.
“The entries are all exhibited and fairly lots of people come to have a look at them,” Johnson stated.
This 12 months, nevertheless, the Silver Arts entries will likely be exhibited on-line by way of Haywood Rec’s Fb web page and county web site — not fairly the identical however a COVID precaution. The Silver Arts additionally consists of literary classes, from poetry to quick tales, and performing arts, together with singing, dancing, performing, instrumental and line dancing.
After his preliminary introduction by the Silver Arts, Johnson was quickly hooked on all-things Senior Video games, collaborating in occasions from bowling to horseshoes.
“As soon as folks become involved, they arrive yearly,” Johnson stated, talking from expertise. “Lots of people would possibly suppose ‘Oh, I’m not ok.’ However folks ought to attempt it, there’s not a variety of strain and nobody judges you. It’s all for enjoyment.”