By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Instead of an intense weekend of sporting events, the games will continue in 2015 as individual tournaments and meets throughout the year, said D Bellamente, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Senior Games and the Port Angeles Senior Center, which sponsors them.
“It’s time to do something different,” Bellamente said.
The change is to encourage people to stay active in multiple sports, she said.
Some senior athletes have to choose between sports because of the busy schedule for the Senior Games, Bellamente said.
“Someone who plays pickleball may also want to play in the softball tournament,” she said.
By separating the individual events, she said, those who wish to take part in more than one event will be better able to do so.
Bellamente said keeping the events separate also means they will be easier to organize, with a weekend or two of planning for a tournament rather than thousands of hours over several months for the Senior Games.
The three-day Senior Games attract as many as 500 athletes age 50 and older from across the North Olympic Peninsula, across the nation and from Canada.
Opening ceremonies will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St.
Competitions begin at 8 a.m. Friday and will continue at a variety of locations around Port Angeles through late Sunday afternoon.
Spectators can watch for free and are welcome at the venues. Schedules are available at the senior center.
Events include traditional competitive athletic events such as swimming at William Shore Memorial Pool, track and field at the Viewcrest Street community track, badminton at the Port Angeles High School gymnasium and cycling starting at Olympic Christian School.
Also, softball at Shane Park, Elks Playfield and Carrie Blake Park; bowling at Laurel Lanes; and basketball at the Clallam County Family YMCA.
It also features games popular with many seniors, such as horseshoes, which will be at Lincoln Park; pickleball, set for Roosevelt Elementary School; pinochle and shuffleboard at the senior center; and cornhole toss, scheduled at Lincoln Park, Park View Villas and the senior center.
Registration is closed for most events, but a few sports may still accept late registrations to fill out foursomes or doubles, Bellamente said.
For more information on possible late registrations, phone the senior center at 360-457-7004.
There is no shortage of volunteers for the games, Bellamente said.
The games have been well-supported by volunteers from the senior center and other organizations, and there are many who would step in for those who planned to retire from their volunteer positions after 10 years of work on the games, she said.
Even in its last year in the present format, she said, there are still new volunteers showing up.
“We still have strong support,” Bellamente said.
Students from the Peninsula College Upward Bound college preparation program are in their first year of volunteering at the games, and members of the Port Angeles High School Navy JROTC unit are returning for another year of helping to set up, take down and move event equipment, she said.
Bellamente said having the young helpers around during the games has been a good way to present senior citizens to youths in a nontraditional forum, demonstrating the active side of aging.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.