LAURINBURG — For the next three weeks, 110 Scotland County seniors will take to the athletic courts to prove that aging is what you make of it.
Shortly after Monday’s Scotland County Senior Games opening ceremonies, more than 50 participants were winners already, greeted with completion medals by games coordinator Kisha Williams.
“It’s not a competition; just complete it,” Williams encouraged. “Take your time … but when you finish your four laps, I have something for you. It’s shiny, too.”
The games are open to those aged 50 and over, with events ranging from basketball, tennis and football throw to the most popular events in the local games: bowling, corn hole, bocce and shuffleboard. Most participants in the Scotland County Senior Games range from 60 to 80, with the oldest this year in the 90-94 age bracket.
For retired wildlife officer Norwood Wooten, the Scotland County Senior Games have been an annual tradition for 13 years — for nine of those, a tradition continued in the fall with a trip to the state finals in Raleigh.
With a basketball career that began in high school and channeled into play in the Air Force and industrial league, Wooten has had more practice in his lifetime than most. But he dedicates time to training each spring before the local games. Now competing in the 75-79 age category, Wooten has won gold medals on the state level for basketball, football, and softball.
“I train hard because I want to win,” he said. “I don’t go for no other reason but competition. And I’m planning on doing it a whole lot longer.”
The Scotland County Senior Games are one of 53 local programs that funnel into the North Carolina Senior Games. With 60,000 participants statewide, the state games are the largest of their kind in the nation.
“All those who participate in senior games, it’s our wish and our goal that it helps to enrich your lives in some way, whether you’re a participant or a volunteer, a cheerleader, or you sit in the stands and watch,” said Betty Rising, a member of the state games’ board. “For the cost it would take to keep less than three people in a nursing home for one year, we can keep 60,000 people active.”
Rising encouraged the Scotland County games participants to play hard and stay healthy, embracing fun, fellowship, and friendly competition.
“It demonstrates to everybody, whatever age they are, that we can truly live our lives every day of our life,” she said. “We don’t have to stop, and we don’t have to quit.”
The games’ Silver Arts component offer seniors an outlet for their literary, visual, and performing arts skills.
This year’s games will conclude with a banquet on May 19 at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.