By Gary Eley
In my last President’s Message for the winter newsletter, I announced that we would be lowering our age limit on Vermont Senior Games to 45. Well it seems that a lot of us had second thoughts about that and at our next board meeting, we rescinded that decision and went back to using the age 50 as our minimum age for participating in our events. So for the foreseeable future, 50 will be the benchmark. It is funny but some of my golf friends and other sports friends can’t wait until they are 50 so they can join their favorite games.
Our Vermont Senior Games season will soon be in full swing. 2016 is a qualifying year for the 2017 National Senior Games that will be held in Birmingham, Alabama. Here in Vermont, all our Senior Games are “open” events, which means that we allow anyone interested in participating, regardless of their state of residence. Allowing out-of-staters to participate in our Games does not hinder our own state residents from qualifying for nationals; we always qualify the top four finishers who are Vermonters, even if there are “out of state” qualifiers ahead of them.
Between April and October, we are proud to be hosting state championship events in fourteen different sports where athletes can qualify for the 2017 National Senior Games. In addition, we will be hosting three other sports that the National Senior Games Association does not offer, we call them our Vermont sports, and our first regional games in recent years. None of these events would be possible without the support of our partners and volunteers. They help us to host our events, staff our events, market our events, and recruit athletes for our events. We value our relationship with each and every partner and volunteer!
We want our games to be inclusive and welcoming to all levels of athletes. We encourage you, even if you have never participated in a Senior Game, to join us. We compete in 5-year age groups in all our events and our motto is “Fun, Fitness and Fellowship.” Some of our competitors are elite athletes, but many have never competed in a sports event before and they enjoy giving it their “best” regardless of how they stack up with the competition. Many of us don’t win medals but we keep track of our times and our progress in learning a new sport, and appreciate the incentive to get into better shape. I personally would not ride my bike as often and as hard as I do, if I did not have the annual bike race to look forward to each year. I keep track of my times to see if I improve, or as the case may be sometimes, how little I have lost. How much longer will it take me this year to ride the 1K, 5K, 10K, or 20K race than it did last year, or will I be faster?
In track and field, there are throwing, running, and jumping events. This year we plan to have clinics before the track and field competition to coach and instruct newcomers on how to do the events. I have learned how to high jump, and throw the discus, javelin, and shot put over the last few years. I never did these events when I was in high school or college. So come on out and try them. It is exhilarating to throw something as far as you can or to jump higher than you ever have before. Likewise running can be fun, especially when it doesn’t last too long…like the 50 and 100 yard dashes!
If you are already a participant in our games, invite a friend to join you this year. If you have never attended a game, contact us and register for the sport of your choice. We have something for everyone and we have a lot of fun and fellowship when we get together. Check out our new website at www.vermontseniorgames.org or contact me personally: Gary Eley, 33 Adams Court, Burlington, VT 05401 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us this year! You will be glad you did!