Bocce ball kicks off 12th annual Senior Games
Under cloudy skies, eager and excited participants with sunny smiles welcomed the 12th annual Western Colorado Senior Games to Grand Junction.
At Hawthorne Park on Monday, close to 20 people gathered to play the game of bocce ball.
At 80 years old, Romaine Webb says that she looks forward to seeing old friends and having fun.
“I think I’m one of the spring chickens out here,” she said.
Her 55-year-old daughter Wendy Logan also took part in the bocce ball competition.
Ellen Roberts said she does about 17 events at the games that run through Friday. Putt and chip, basketball, dance, hula and more. Not bad for the 92-year-old Fruita women.
“I love every bit of it. I do as much as I can,” she said.
Roberts didn’t play sports when she was in high school because of a heart problem so she did other things like glee club. She eventually outgrew her health problem and now she loves doing all kinds of sports and being in the outdoors. She said that she’s been doing the Senior Games for at least seven years.
“I would have done it longer but I don’t know about it,” she said smiling.
Her favorite activity is the putt and chip competition but she enjoys bocce too.
Sporting T-shirts with the slogan “Play Hard, Stay Young,” the energetic competition was friendly and fun.
“I started to get the feel of it,” Daphne Blankenship said after her first-round win.
With both cheers and groans rising from the competitors with nearly every shot, it was a good start to the Senior Games for Grand Junction.
Blankenship, 77, from Fruita said she looks forward to the games all year.
“Oh my gosh yes, it’s so much fun,” she said.
Blankenship said she does nearly all the events. Like Webb, she plays bocce ball once a year, during the Senior Games. But when it comes to the line dance competition, slated for today, Blankenship and her team has been practicing three times a week preparing for the games. She said that there are teams from the Front Range that will be making the trip to compete.
She’s been teaching line dance at Grand Junction and Fruita recreation departments for 13 years.
Most of this Senior Games group were just occasional or once a year bocce ball players.
But Robert Brewer is the resident bocce ball expert, and plays a couple of times a week. Along with his partner, Brewer, 72, won the competition last year.
He knows the game inside and out. Brewer, who moved from Cleveland to Grand Junction in 2007 with his wife, so they could be close to their children, has been playing the ancient game for 34 years.
The sand bocce ball court and wooden scoreboard at Hawthorne Park was built at his assistance and help.
He approached the city after he grew tired of playing bocce ball indoors.
“Playing inside is for the birds,” he said.
For nearly everyone, the competition is secondary to seeing and spending time with old friends, many who they see just one time a year at the Senior Games.
“It’s a lot of fun to see friends. This year I got both my daughters involved,” Webb said.
She said she’s looking forward to competing in the field events on Friday.
Pickle ball was also scheduled for Monday.
The games will go on all week with sports and activities being held at various location around Grand Junction.