Seniors prepare for Michigan Senior Olympics Winter Games

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 15, 2020

 Craig Butler, center, and fellow basketball skills competitors pose for a photo following the Michigan Senior Olympics Basketball Skills Challenge, for those ages 50-54, last summer.

Craig Butler, center, and fellow basketball skills competitors pose for a photo following the Michigan Senior Olympics Basketball Skills Challenge, for those ages 50-54, last summer.

Photo provided by Becky Ridky

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ROCHESTER — When Craig Butler turned 50 last March, he jumped at the chance to participate in the Michigan Senior Olympics.

“I’ve always loved basketball, but I stopped playing because I couldn’t keep up with the younger kids,” he said.

Butler, of Almont, first heard about the Michigan Senior Olympics from a friend and decided to give it a try last summer.

“The Michigan Senior Olympics is really nice because it is actually age-oriented, so you are competing against people your own age,” he said.

He was assigned to a team, and he said he had a great time.

“I got to play with two other guys that I never knew, and that was a great experience because I got two new friends. We had a blast. It was a lot of fun,” he said.

This year, Butler is returning to the MSO to compete in the Basketball Skills Challenge and cornhole, a new event in the 2020 Winter Games.

“It’s a great opportunity to make friends and get active,” he said.

The 2020 MSO Winter Games will be held Feb. 5-16 at various locations throughout Oakland and Macomb counties.

Michigan Senior Olympics Executive Director Becky Ridky expects approximately 800 participants ages 50 and older to compete in the Winter Games this year — which include basketball, billiards, bocce ball, pickleball, powerlifting, table tennis, ice hockey, co-ed volleyball, dancesport, indoor track and field, racewalk, powerwalk, and two new events — bowling and cornhole.

“Those will both be a lot of fun, so we encourage people to come give those a try,” Ridky said.

The games are open to anyone 50 or older, and athletes of all skill levels compete in five-year age groups.

“We welcome people of all different abilities to participate in the games. We try to have something for everyone, so they don’t need to be a professional in the sport they are participating in. We have a lot of sports that are just for fun,” Ridky said.

Seniors can register to compete in various events through the early registration deadline of Jan. 31, but the pickleball registration deadline is Jan. 17. All of the games, with the exception of dancesport, are free for spectators to watch.

“We want the public to come and watch and have a fun afternoon or evening out,” Ridky said. “Anyone is welcome to come and watch the competitions.”

The dancesport competition, where professional and amateur dancers compete on the dance floor, will be held at the Royal Park Hotel Feb. 16. Tickets must be purchased to attend.

The Michigan Senior Olympics will also host a 50-and-older women’s ice hockey tournament April 3-5, and co-ed volleyball March 15.

The MSO is also looking for sponsors and around 100 volunteers for both the upcoming Winter Games and the 41st annual Summer Games in August. Volunteers of all ages can be trained to assist with registration, check-in, T-shirt folding and scorekeeping. For more information, a schedule of events, or to volunteer or become a sponsor for the upcoming games, visit www.michiganseniorolympics.org or call (248) 608-0252.

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