- Written by Megan Joyce Megan Joyce
Each year, the York County Senior Games have a consistent goal of building up camaraderie and physical fitness — but the annual event also has a goal of tearing something down.
“Aging has a certain stereotype about it, and the Senior Games help older adults stay involved in the community while enjoying some exercise and encouraging a positive outlook about aging,” Jenny Nace, information specialist for the York County Area Agency on Aging, said.
“The Senior Games give hope that aging does not have to be negative. There are many opportunities for aging well, and the games are just one of those opportunities.”
The 18th annual York County Senior Games returned June 17–21, with most events held at Central York High School.
Organized by the York County Area Agency on Aging in conjunction with the Senior Games Planning Committee, the games comprised 28 events — returning favorites as well as a new offering.
“Pickleball was a new event this year,” Nace said. “We partnered with the White Rose Pickleball Association. They coordinated a men’s, women’s, and mixed pickleball event for the games.”
Popular sports included bocce; ladder golf; Wii bowling; football, Frisbee, and softball throws; basketball hoops; horseshoes; darts; and cornhole, Nace said.
Registration climbed for 2019, exceeding 550 participants, more than 150 of whom were first-timers. The games’ oldest competitor, at age 98, clinched her third consecutive gold-medal win in the 500-bid card game.
Nonagenarians also competed in a range of other sports, including the games’ 93-year-old torchbearer, John Barton, who joined in more than a dozen events.
“He’s participated for the past 13 years and didn’t even start participating until he was 81!” Nace said.
The Senior Games are open to any York County man or woman over 50, however, and 54-year-old Rev. Dr. Mike Brossman, lead pastor at Calvary United Methodist Church in York, was selected to lead the parade of athletes, part of the week’s opening ceremony.
“The parade of athletes is fun. I’m honored to lead the parade when called upon,” Brossman said. “The parade is a time to begin to build the momentum for the games that the AAA works so hard to provide with excellence.”
It was Brossman’s fourth year competing in the Senior Games; his efforts included table tennis, pickleball, throws, darts, and basketball shots.
And although the days of competition bring friends together and encourage fellowship, the games are still just that — a competition.
“We are competitive. We give it our all,” Brossman said. “The genius of the AAA is to offer activities for all ages of seniors, all abilities, and various interests.
“And, since we participate each year, the games give us an opportunity to stay active and ready to compete all year long.”
Also vital to the games’ success were the 220 volunteers who gave their time in 2019.
“We always have wonderful volunteers, but this year they were exceptional,” Nace said. “Our running volunteers actually ran with the participants, encouraging them over the finish line.”
Nace said participants provided positive feedback, grateful for the efforts of all involved in coordinating the multipronged effort required to pull off the five-day Senior Games each year.
“They are very appreciative of all the volunteer support and our wonderful sponsors; without their generous support, the games couldn’t be held,” she said.
“We have so much support from key community leaders and sponsoring organizations,” Brossman agreed.
“It was nice to see the increase of athlete participation this year,” he said. “We obviously hope for more participation each year as more folks become aware and eligible.”
The results listings for the 2019 York County Senior Games can be found online at www.ycaaa.org. Photos can be viewed at https://yorkcountyseniorgamesyorkpa.shutterfly.com.
For more information, call the York County AAA at (717) 771-9001.