The Senior Games offer more than sport

The winning cheer teams from across the state will compete for a chance to qualify for the Senior Games State Finals. (Photo: NC Senior Games)

What the North Carolina Senior Games may lack in the glitz and grandeur of recent Olympics, it more than makes up for in character for the people of Tarheel State. Unfortunately, Beijing has seen no cheerleading contests between fierce rival senior teams, NBC has the ratings to prove it.

The Yadkin Senior Games and SilverArts 2022 will not have intense curling battles, however, they will take the fun of spirited athletic competition and add contests in the arts categories to engage in an Olympiad of body and mind. .

“You’re never too old to play, and it’s never too late to create,” said local games coordinator Bradley Key. In a typical year, he said the games can have between 150 and 200 participants from across the region. Games are open to residents of other counties, only the pickleball tournament requires a player to live in Surry or Yadkin counties.

To fuel the North Carolina Senior Games State Finals, Yadkin Valley Senior Games and SilverArts have their registrations open through the end of March. Registration is $10, will include a t-shirt, and can be viewed online at:

Sporting events offered at the Yadkin Senior Games include bowling, cycling, 5k running, swimming and also track and field events. Tournament-style events for billiards, pétanque, disc golf, croquet, shuffleboard and cornhole will also be held. Several racquet events are held with tennis, table tennis, badminton, racquetball and a new favorite across the country: pickleball.

A game of skill about tossing dill pickles into an oversized barrel, it’s not. Pickleball is a social game for all ages that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. Played on a smaller court with a paddle, Silver Sneakers Magazine said seniors enjoy the game because “beginners are always welcome, the rules are easy to learn, and it’s designed to be carefree and fun.”

“Pickleball is a great sport for lifelong active living,” says Jonathan Casper, Ph.D., associate professor of sports management at North Carolina State University. “Because it’s similar to other racquet sports, you can learn the game pretty quickly and you can play for as long as your body allows.”

A sports fitness industry survey found a 21.3% increase in national participation since 2019, in part due to inclusion in retirement communities. However, the combination of a smaller court, paddle, and serves that don’t scream out of the head can appeal to players of all types.

Health professionals have encouraged setting aside time for physical activity on a regular basis as people age, taking time out for brain training may also reap benefits. Activities that challenge both brain and motor skills can help improve physical fitness while working one of the body’s most important organs.

To that end, the SilverArts is “a celebration of creative expression by seniors in North Carolina” and is a major component of the traditional Senior Games athletic competition that some may not have heard of.

Striving to keep seniors active and involved, the program unites athlete and artist to highlight the similarities found in both. The qualities of discipline, dedication and pride in accomplishment can be found in a range of artistic mediums.

SilverArts categories include literary arts for entries in essays, short stories, and poems. In the visual arts, submissions sought include pastels, photography, sculpture and watercolors.

For those looking for the limelight, the performing arts will host showcases of singing, comedy and line dancing. Cheerleading teams in small, medium, and large groups also compete locally for the chance to make it to the state finals to earn their bragging rights as the best in the state.

The heritage arts category may be of particular interest to artisans in the region. A demonstration of some of the best skills in local basket weaving, crocheting, knitting, sewing, quilting, stained glass, pottery, weaving, woodcarving and woodworking is sure to delight competitors and the public.

“While many of our attendees simply enjoy participating for local fun, this is also an opportunity to qualify in an event and advance to compete in the North Carolina Senior Games State Finals,” said Key.

Submitted works will be on display at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2.

The Yadkin Valley and SilverArts Senior Games run from May 3 through June 14. The North Carolina Senior Games National Finals begin in September with archery and end in November with a basketball tournament in Greenville.

With even more options than space to list here, those interested in participating locally should go to: for a complete listing of all Senior Games and SilverArts offerings.

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