On Friday, February 26, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community welcomed its seniors and those from neighboring nations for the 2016 Senior Games, held at the Salt River Community Building. Participants competed in a variety of team games, including chair volleyball, oompa lumpa and the walking relay, and they also had a chance to earn some individual glory in games like the chicken throw, obstacle course, basketball throw and other adaptive games.
SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr. opened the games with encouragement and a morning prayer for members and guests. In addition to the SRPMIC, nations represented were the Gila River Indian Community, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Tohono O’odham Nation and, traveling from Peach Springs, the Hualapai Nation. All athletes began the event with a hearty breakfast and morning stretches to warm up the body.
Chair volleyball, the most popular of the games, began with 30 teams. As the competition continued, that soon was reduced to two teams in the finals, both from District 5 of the Gila River Indian Community. The Mustangs ultimately took the chair volleyball championship.
Up next was oompa lumpa, a game in which teams of two carry an oversized beach ball around the basketball court without dropping it. The event is timed, and if the ball touches the ground before the team completes a lap, that team is out of the competition. This event created the most suspense and excitement, as many teams kept the spectators on the edge of their seats with each fumble and bobble.
The team portion of the games ended with the walking relay where the Salt River Steppers were crowned champions. The participants then had a bit of a rest period as the seniors enjoyed lunch, conversed and laughed.
After lunch, the individual games began. This was a chance for each person to compete against others in their own age category. The cup stacking and basketball toss were the most popular of the individual games.
After all the games wrapped, awards were handed out. Each winner received a trophy or medal as well as applause from the fellow competitors and volunteers.
The Senior Games is an annual event. For more information, please contact the SRPMIC Recreation Department at (480) 362-6360.