Seniors from central Arizona Native American communities including the Gila River Indian Community, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Sells, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community met up to take part in this year’s Senior Games, held at the Salt River Community Building on March 18. As many as 150 seniors registered for the games early that morning, then received a health screening by SRPMIC Health & Human Services staff, who were on hand throughout the day.
SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier was present for the opening of the Senior Games and gave the welcoming prayer and blessing over the event.
This year, the team games were held first, throughout the morning, and later in the afternoon the individual games began. Chair volleyball was the first of the team games. Eager teams cheered each other on inside the Pi-Copa Gym.
“I thought it was very good to see all the seniors participate in the Senior Games,” said Harvier. “There were a lot of seniors who came from different communities, and it was nice to see them excited to be able to participate in the games, especially the chair volleyball games.”
The vice-president stayed to watch most of the chair volleyball competition. “I have never seen the game played, and the seniors were very competitive. I really enjoyed watching,” said Harvier.
After chair volleyball concluded, the walking relay races started.
“Everything today was good, and for me [the Senior Games are] the only way to get out and meet other seniors,” said Andrew Parey from the Tohono O’odham Nation shortly after finishing the relay.
This was Parey’s fourth time competing in the senior games. Last year he won 22 medals in the relay race, chicken throw and other events. This year he participated with Joyce Martinez in the walking relay; they earned one of the highest scores of the event.
The Oompa Loompa relay race was the final team competition. This was one of the more entertaining events for the senior spectators, as they watched two team members carry an oversized beach ball—so large it took both people to hold it over their heads—and walk across the basketball court and back.
Many of the seniors laughed and found it very comical as some teams rushed, dropping theirbeach ball and almost tipping over other teams’ balls as well.
For lunch the seniors enjoyed barbecue while an Elvis impersonator sang the King’s greatest hits. After the lunch break, the Senior Games continued with the individual competitions.
Seniors competed in the famous rubber chicken throw, the obstacle course, basketball throw and paper crunch during the afternoon.
After the games ended, points were tallied up and an awards ceremony took place.
The Gila River team took most of the championship trophies, including chair volleyball; Gila River Indian Community Districts 2-7 were present for the games. Team “JuJudum” of San Tan won the chair volleyball competition; the team is coached by senior Ed Kyyitan.
Couple Claris Norris and Frank Carlisle each took home a trophy, winning a team game together and one individual game. “This is what keeps us going,” said Norris. “This is our second time coming and participating in the games; we come from San Xavier Mission,” she said. “It’s been fun for us, and [we’re] also glad to meet new people and make new friends.”
The purpose of the Senior Games is to foster health, fitness and social interaction among the seniors.