June 7, 2011
A true Cortland effort as Senior Games open
The imperiled 2011 Empire State Senior Games are alive and well and back in Cortland, the annual event getting into the swing of things at noon today with a shotgun start for golfers at the Walden Oaks Country Club.
An almost full slate of events for the Olympic-style sporting gala will be conducted on Wednesday, with SUNY Cortland the focal point for most of the sporting activities that will run through the weekend for athletes from around the state who are 50 years of age and older.
With state financial cutbacks taking a toll on the fate of the Empire State Games, this year’s event is being facilitated in a joint effort between the Cortland Regional Sports Council and the Cortland County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“When we decided to take on the challenge of the Senior Games, we really had no idea what to expect. We weren’t sure if the athletes would still come or how much work would have to be put forth to run the event,” explained Machell Phelps, Executive Director of the Cortland Regional Sports Council. “We are pleased to report an attendance of over 1,000 athletes, which was our goal for our first year.”
In the beginning, assistance from former and current state employees helped with the details but the last six weeks have been a true Cortland effort. Some 60 golfers are expected to tee it up today, there are 29 volleyball teams participating and the popular pickleball event has well over 80 participants planned to attend.
“We wanted to get through one year before we make any changes,” said Jim Dempsey, Director of the Cortland County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. “The plan will be to assess everything after this week.”
Today’s golf outing is just one of the sports being contested in seven different age groups for men and women — those divisions for athletes 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84 and 85-and-older. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the top three finishers.
Cort-Lanes will be host to bowling competitors starting on Wednesday, the horseshoe throwers will be battling it out at the Tri-County Horseshoe Club in Groton, bicycling is conducted at Green Peak in Virgil, women’s softball is on the weekend at Cortland’s Beaudry Park, disc golfers gather at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden and orienteering is being held at the Lime Hollow Nature Center.
SUNY Cortland is the site for archery (Davis Field), shuffleboard (Lusk Field House), handball (Park Center), pickleball (Park Center), ping pong (Moffett Gym), racquetball (Park Center), badminton (Park Center), tennis (SUNY Cortland courts), bridge (Park Center Hall of Fame Room), 5K and 10K road runs and walks, swimming (Holsten Pool), track and field (Stadium Complex), volleyball (Lusk Field House) and basketball (Corey Gymnasium).
An Empire State Senior Games triathlon is being held on Saturday at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, starting at 8:30 a.m.
The annual torch lighting takes place on Thursday at the SUNY Cortland Park Center on campus, that ceremony running from 6-10 p.m. at the Alumni Arena ice rink. Other special events for the athletes include a Friday night Dinner-Dance at the Corey Union Function Room from and a Dinner and DJ at the Corey Union Function Room Saturday, both getting underway at 6 p.m.
A website for information on the Senior Games — www.nyseniorgames.com — was constructed and is being hosted by Plan First Technologies of Cortland. “Doing business within our community to support the Games was one of the first decisions we made as a committee.” said Dempsey. “That philosophy will continue as we progress.”
Volunteers from the Cortland Community are needed at the end of the week for track and field events at the Stadium Complex. Call 753-8463 if you can give some time.
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