Let the Games Begin

The 26th annual Florida Senior Games are headed to Clearwater Dec. 2-10

By Charmaine Engelsman-Robins

The Tampa Bay Area Ref Shop Men’s Volleyball Team is a diverse group to say the least. One team member is the director of the YMCA of the Suncoast, one owns a pawn shop, another is a cross-country truck driver, and there’s one fellow who is (I kid you not) a retired CIA agent.

Though their collective careers may seem like something dreampt up for a movie script, in reality these fit “young seniors” have racked up quite an impressive record in the 55-59 age group, winning challenge after challenge over the past few years.

Next up for the team is the 26th Annual Florida Senior Games to be held in Clearwater and at various locations in Pinellas County, Dec. 2-10.

Medals will be awarded, records will be set and athletes will achieve personal bests in which they have trained for months to achieve,” said Nick Gandy, director of communications at the Florida Sports Foundation, the nonprofit corporation which organizes the FSG events. “Participation with teammates and friends
is encouraged.”

More than 2,000
athletes — ages 50 and
up — from 20 states
(and counting) will be competing in
the nine-day event which features 24
different sporting
competitions.

With an age range of 50 “and up,” one can’t help but wonder, “How high is up?”

One competitor with the answer to that may be a former Michigander named
John Horwath, who at 95 years young is a Florida Senior Games archer from
The Villages. See him blaze some arrows in a short video on the Florida Senior Games Facebook page facebook.com/floridaseniorgames.

Then there’s the record-setting bowler who will be returning to Seminole Lanes. Jack Appel, 91, of Boca Raton set a men’s singles record in 2016 and established a new men’s doubles mark, with his partner, Stanley Corwin, in the 90-94 age group.

Women are a vibrant component of the games as well. Among those already
registered is the 2003 FSG Female Athlete of the Year, Madelaine “Tiny” Cazel, of
the Villages, a record holder in the long jump, javelin and discus throws in both the 70-74 and 75-79 age groups.

There’s literally something for everyone as the games appeal to all interests, strength and skill levels. Sure, many are lifelong “jocks” but there’s also a good crowd of late bloomers, having seen retirement as the opportune time to get fit and active. One thing they all have in common: there’s not a rocking chair in sight.

Florida Senior Games online registration is available at floridaseniorgames.com. Entry fees vary by sport; the deadline for online registration is Nov.19. Competition and registration inquiries can also be made by calling toll free 1-866-FLGAMES (354-2637) or by email to games@flasports.com.

For inspiration, check out flasports.com/florida-senior-games/notable-athletes where you’ll find motivational stories on a variety of senior sports persons. Browse around and find information on the upcoming games like Archery, Badminton, Bag Toss, Basketball 3-on-3, Basketball Shooting, Billiards, Bowling and Bowling Team.

There’s also Cycling, Golf, Horseshoes, Lawn Bowls, Pickleball, Powerlifting, Race Walk, Racquetball, Road Race, Shuffleboard, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tai Chi, Tennis, Track and Field, and Volleyball.

The site also offers information on volunteer opportunities, area hotels, and more. So make your plans and reservations now, issue invitations to friends to join you and share in the excitement.

See you in Clearwater at the Florida Senior Gamers 2017. Let the games begin!

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