The Mid-Carolina Senior Games will open up on April 2, with locals from Sampson planning to go for the gold. These Senior Games encompass Sampson, Harnett, and Cumberland counties, and the opening ceremonies will be held at Hercules Fitness Center in Fayetteville.
“It’s amazing seeing the torch carrier coming in,” said an enthusiastic Marie Faircloth, director of the Garland Senior Center, which usually has several participants in the Games.
“This year I will have about 20 people that will attend, with 10 participating,” she explained. “They range in age from 62 to 94.”
The senior games offer myriad activities, including track and field, swimming and tournaments. Tournaments include golf, billiards, bocce, cornhole, croquet, horseshoes, racquetball, shuffleboard, badminton, bowling, pickleball, tennis, table tennis and team sports like basketball and softball.
“We are excited about the senior games,” said Faircloth. “It’s more than the senior games (for them).” Faircloth explained it is an excellent opportunity for older adults to meet up with people they don’t see often, plus stay fit.
“They get to meet old time friends who they did activities with before or competed with in the past,” detailed Faircloth.
Some of the participants coming from Garland have been top winners.
“We have two (participants) who bring home gold and silver,” Faircloth bragged. Charles Powell and Sabina Gamas, two of their winners, both participate in a lot of sports and activities during the games.
After the county competitions, which include Sampson, Harnett, and Cumberland, the participants can advance to the state level.
“We play against different people from all over the state,” said Faircloth in an interview Friday. The local games are held throughout the Tri-County region.
Tracy Davis, who is the Mid-Carolina Senior Games coordinator, said that last year there were 440 participants in the Senior Games.
“Seventy-seven of those (participants) were from Sampson County,” she said. There were 92 from Harnett County and 251 from Cumberland County. Twenty were non-residents.”
“Clinton Parks and Recreation will host our horseshoe and shuffleboard events at Royal Lane Park and Sampson County Parks and Recreation will host our Bocce Tournament at Western District Park in Roseboro,” Davis said, also mentioning that this is the second year pickleball will be available for competition. She described it as a combination of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. It has a lower net and whiffle-style ball.
“It has finally been sanctioned as an event,” she added.
Other changes include the addition of a younger age group, those ages 50 to 54 ,she said.
In addition to athletic events, there’s the Senior Art competition, which includes visual arts such as painting, drawing, water color, photography, pastels, sculpture and mixed media. Writers, Davis said , can also participate in the literary arts genre through poetry, short stories, essays or detailing life experiences.”
“North Carolina is one of the few states that offer a Silver Arts competition,” said Davis.
The Garland Center, Faircloth said, would have participants in both athletic and art competitions.
“We have some who participate both,” she noted.
Another section for competition is the Heritage Folk Art category that includes activities like quilting, tatting and needle lace, crocheting and knitting, pottery and jewelry making. Those that enjoy being physical but can’t do vigorous exercises can also participate in performing arts like dance, drama or cheerleading.
“It’s like a big homecoming to these seniors,” Faircloth explained. “Plus they like free stuff. There’s a health fair in the morning with health education vendors. Information is provided on items like Social Security and long term care.”
“I would advise any senior in the county to get involved in the senior games,” Faircloth stressed. Spectators are encouraged to come as well, she said, because the experience is amazing.
“If you are interested in going, the Garland Senior Center still has some extra seats left on their van,” mentioned Faircloth. To get registered, call the GSC at 910-529-3931.
Registration will continue through March 14, with a fee of $11. Forms can be picked up from the Clinton Bellamy Center, the Sampson Wellness Center, or the Arts Council. Forms are also available for pickup from the Mid-Carolina Senior Games Coordinator Tracy Davis in Fayetteville. Davis’ phone number is 910-323-4191.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.