TEGA CAY --
The day you walk out to the mailbox to find an AARP membership packet with your name printed on it can be a hard one.
You are an official “Senior Citizen.”
The shock soon fades, and you realize seniority has its advantages. You get your Cokes at the drive-thru for a dime. “Freedom of speech” takes on a whole new meaning. Fifty is the new 25, and seniors really do have more fun.
That was the general sentiment among 42 local athletes as they competed in the fourth annual Tega Cay Senior Games sponsored by Wellmore and Tega Cay Pharmacy. The games were held Sept. 10-12 in Tega Cay and at Strikers Bowling Alley in Rock Hill.
George Fiegel, a runner who competes in Senior Games at a state and national level, began the Tega Cay Senior Games four years ago, modeling them after National Senior Games Association events.
The nonprofit NSGA, a member of the Olympic Committee, operates to promote healthy lifestyles among seniors through the senior games movement, to improve quality of life among seniors, and to promote healthy aging initiatives and research. Last year’s Senior Games in Houston drew roughly 10,100 competitors.
“It’s widely-known in the senior community that the senior games are community level, state level, and national,” Fiegel says.
The 2012 Tega Cay games featured bowling, golf, croquet, cornhole and a one-mile walk.
While the spirit of the Tega Cay games stays the same from year to year, the events change slightly. Fiegel relies on feedback from participant surveys to tweak each year’s events to improve the experience for everyone.
“I’m trying to think of others that failed – basketball, tennis serving. Just like any sport, it’s going to take a day or two to do some of these activities. Up to this year we did four days. This year we shortened it to three and a half,” Fiegel says.
A highlight of the games is the variety of events offered, and these seniors know it’s never too late to learn something new. The average age of competitors was 67, with several “junior seniors” in their 50s as well as more “senior seniors” in their 80s.
“I like it all,” says Ida Compasso as she tries her hand at chipping golf balls. “This I never do. I never play golf. I play croquet.”
Croquet is a favorite event among the Tega Cay athletes.
“What really makes it possible is the croquet court, because you can do a lot of things there. The court is about 5 years old. We’re able to run three tournaments during the week,” George says.
“It’s so low-impact that everybody can do it,” says Judie Fiegel, George’s wife.
Tega Cay residents Fred and Sue Elsasser have participated in the Tega Cay Senior Games every year.
“We enjoy the beautiful weather and socialize with our friends and just enjoy Tega Cay,” Sue says as she prepares for the one-mile walk early Wednesday morning.
While Sue enjoys all the week’s events, Fred has a favorite: “Lunch.”
The 2012 Tega Cay Senior Games concluded with a luncheon and medal presentation.
“I know all of us enjoy it, and we’d like to spread it to other people. But it’s hard to get in contact and let them know this is a place we can have fun, have social contact, and exercise,” Fiegel says.
For Senior Games registration information and club links and activities, go to www.tegacaysc.org.