“It’s important for people from across the state to come to eastern North Carolina to see what Pitt County has to offer.”
By Ginger Livingston
Friday, October 25, 2013
Time passes for everyone, but the thrill of competition never grows old.
No one knows this better than the approximately 700 people between the ages of 50-87 who gathered at East Carolina University’s Student Recreation Center on Friday for the N.C. Senior Games 20th Anniversary State Finals 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.
More than 50 men’s and women’s teams are competing in round robin and best of three events to reach the state championship games being held today.
Greenville has hosted the 3-on-3 tournament for 19 of its 20 years. The players and the community look forward to the annual event.
“We enjoy hosting this event. I look at it as an intergenerational activity,” said Nancy Mize, ECU assistant vice chancellor for campus recreation and wellness. Mize, who’s participated in the Senior Games for 11 years, said she enjoys the initial surprise and then admiration the ECU students experience watching the seniors play.
“It changes their perspective about us old folks,” Mize said.
“There are a number of other venues across the state that have applied to sponsor this (tournament) but Greenville stands out because it has such a wonderful facility, a welcoming community and strong leadership,” said Brad Allen, president of the North Carolina Senior Games. “It makes it a world class location for hosting the games.”
The 3-on-3 tournament adds about $100,000 annually to Pitt County’s economy, according to 2012 study by the Greenville-Pitt County Conventions and Visitors Bureau.
“We are a big basketball community and we’ve always been strong supporters of the state finals,” Alice Keene, one of the tournament organizers, said. “It’s important for people from across the state to come to eastern North Carolina to see what Pitt County has to offer and what East Carolina University has to offer.”
The Senior Games offer individuals ages 50 and older a chance to pursue a physical activity in a social setting, Keene said.
The teams competing this weekend traveled from as far as Wilmington on the coast and Cherokee in the mountains.
Pitt County has four women’s and four men’s teams competing.
Among the players on Greenville’s 75+ No Stopping Us women’s team is 80-year-old Fran Allison.
She started competing in the Senior Games 25 years ago, first playing tennis and then joining the basketball and softball teams and participating in other sports.
Allison competed in a national softball tournament three weeks after having a lumpectomy and while she under went radiation treatment.
Her enjoyment of the games inspired her daughter, Jackie Allison, 57, to also join the Senior Games.
The Allisons were presented the National Senior Games Association Personal Best Award during a break in Friday’s play.
The association’s Personal Best Award recognizes individuals who have overcome obstacles and challenges to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, said Marc T. Riker, the association’s chief executive officer.
The award is being presented to an individual is each state. The Allisons are the first duo to be honored, he said.
“Their story was just so powerful, a mother and a daughter, and the story of what they have achieved,” Riker said.
“I want people to recognize anybody can do this, no matter what your age,” Fran Allison said. The N.C. Senior Games offers an arts program for individuals who do not enjoy competitive sports, she said.
Fran Allison once said she would stop competing when she was 80, Riker said. Now that she has reached that milestone, she is determined “to play right on,” Riker said.
North Carolina’s Senior Game system is a model for the nation because there is a regional competition within an hour of every citizen, Riker said.
“I hope people can understand what they have here and that they are very fortunate that they have people doing this for them,” he said.
Contact Ginger Livingston at email@example.com or 252-329-9570.
via The Daily Reflector.