May 21, 2009
Senior Games seeking volunteers for events
More than 1,600 athletes will compete at the games June 2-7 on SUNY Cortland campus
The Empire State Senior Games are on and returning to Cortland, but the local organizers need volunteers.
Called off a few months ago by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to save money, the games were reinstated after pressure from state legislators, who heard from upset athletes.
Athletes will come to the SUNY Cortland campus on June 2-7 to compete in tennis, track and field, shuffleboard, swimming, volleyball, horseshoes, badminton, softball and other sports.
“We need about 75 volunteers,” said Jane Rowe, the local coordinator. “They get a shirt. If they work eight hours, they can come to the Thursday dinner for free.”
Rowe said volunteers sometimes assume they need to know a sport’s rules well to work at that site, but they do not. The people in charge of each sport will direct them.
“The volunteers keep score, run scoreboards, hand out medals,” Rowe said. “For the race walk, they hand out water and encourage the participants. Shuffleboard lasts three days so we need lots of volunteers for that.”
Athletes must be at least age 50 as of Dec. 31.
Rowe said about 1,600 people have signed up to compete, down from the usual 2,000 to 2,200.
“Probably people thought the competitions were canceled and made other plans,” she said.
The games serve as the national qualifier for New York state in some sports, such as golf and track and field.
The event’s motto is “You Don’t Stop Playing When You Grow Old: You Grow Old When You Stop Playing.”
Golf has been moved to Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, after some athletes complained last year that Elm Tree Golf Course was too hilly.
“That was a real unpopular move, putting golf in Syracuse,” Rowe said. “About 170 people have signed up and they want to be with everyone else.”
There is no minimum age for volunteers. Because the competition happens during school hours, they tend to be at least college age.
People who wish to volunteer should contact Rowe at her home at 607-749-5952.
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