Linda Combs is looking forward to competing on the basketball and tennis courts with her fellow senior citizens.
Along with others, Combs is serving as an ambassador for the annual Mid-Carolina Senior Games. The month-long event is scheduled to begin April 6 and continue through April 25.
“It’s a lot of fun, you meet new people and you have a great time,” Combs said about the observance, which includes a special opening ceremony.
Event officials will celebrate 30 years and are inviting anyone 50 and older to participate. The region includes Sampson, Cumberland and Harnett counties. Local coordinator Tracy Davis said one of the purposes is to promote senior health. It is made possible by coordinating agencies throughout the region. Some of them include the Clinton Recreation Department and Sampson County Department of Aging.
“We want to keep them fit, both physically and mentally, as they age…,” Davis said about the program which began in 1986.
Every year, the program is sanctioned by North Carolina Senior Games, Inc. and sponsored statewide by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services. According to the organization, the purpose of division is to promote the independence and enhance the dignity of elderly adults, individuals with disabilities and their families through a community-based systems of opportunities.
“You’re never too old to learn and you’re never too old to do,” Davis said in regards to the age of the participant. “I would encourage anyone to give it a try, especially if they checked with their doctor and their doctor is aware that they’re going to be starting some new activities. I think you’ll be surprised the seniors who are really still fit and still looking for activities.”
More than 25 various individual and team activities are available for the athletes. Some of them include basketball, football, tennis, badminton, softball and track and field competitions. A silver arts competition will include visual, literacy, heritage and performing arts. Combs said Sampson County residents have done well in the competition.
“We have some talented people in Sampson County that will do very well if they submit something to be judged and they might go on to the state level,” Combs said.
Medal winners in all competitions will qualify for the North Carolina Senior Games held every two years.
“It motivates me to be healthy and do more,” Davis said. “I truly love senior games and it’s a passion for me.”
Davis has coordinated the event for 15 years and said it improved the health of many seniors in the community.
“It keeps them practicing year-round,” Davis said. “That’s why it can be a year-round health promotion program because they have to practice to get ready for our local games in the spring and they have to practice again to get ready for the state finals in the fall.”
Davis added that baby boomers are search for more interesting and active activity such as pickleball, a racquet sport which combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Since it began a few years ago, it’s becoming the largest tournament sport in the state’s senior games.
“It’s really growing and booming in the area now,” Davis said about the fast paced game played by people of all ages.
Opening ceremonies will be held April 6 at the Hercules Fitness Center, 763 Armistead St., Fort Bragg. After this ceremony, the games will be held at various locations such as Campbell University, Hope Mills Recreation Center Gym and Dragon Lanes in Fort Bragg.
Sampson County’s Royal Lane Park will host a horseshoe contest on Monday, April 11. A women’s contest is scheduled for 9 a.m., followed by the men’s at 11 a.m.
A few days later, Royal Lane Park will host a shuffleboard contest on Thursday, April 14. The women’s contest is scheduled for 9 a.m., followed by the men’s event at 11 a.m.
Roseboro’s Western District Park is hosting a bocce event on 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 20. The game is similar to lawn bowling and is played on a smaller field.
Registration is now open and will continue through Wednesday, March 16. Online registration at torch.ncseniorgames.org is $14 and $15 by mail. The fee for out-of-county residents who are not from Sampson, Cumberland and Harnett counties is $20. Participants from other counties may sign-up if they’ve lived in the state for three consecutive months.
For more information or to receive an entry form, contact Tracy Davis at Mid-Carolina Senior Games, P.O. Box Drawer 1510, Fayetteville, NC 28302 or by calling 910-323-4191, Ext. 27; by fax at 910-323-9330; and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.