BY HALEY EBLIN
For the first time since 2008, the Downriver Senior Olympics returns to Trenton. The event brings together 18 Downriver communities in the spirit of friendly rivalry and good fun.
Almost all of the competitions will be held at venues throughout Trenton.
The week-long event should bring in business, but more than anything it will show off the places and people that make Trenton unique.
The games kick off at the Westfield Activities Center Monday, July 31, with a breakfast at 7 a.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Then, it’s right to the competition.
Monday boasts some of the most popular events including the baking contest, football throw, and euchre tournament. Tuesday features horseshoes, tennis, and the spelling bee among other events. Wednesday continues with the golf, swimming, and ballroom dancing competitions. The games finish up on Thursday with the one-mile run, bowling, and the new “paddle and peddle” event, which is a combination of biking and kayaking. On Friday, Aug. 4, the week wraps up with an awards banquet at the Stone Creek Center in Flat Rock.
The games might only last a week, but the planning and scheduling behind them takes much longer.
“Flat Rock has already stepped up as the host for next year. Planning for next year’s Senior Olympics pretty much starts right after this one ends,” said Carol Garrison, senior citizen coordinator for the City of Trenton.
If anyone was experienced and prepared to take on the massive task of scheduling and planning the 2017 games, it was Garrison. She was a part of planning past Downriver Senior Olympics in both Trenton and Riverview. Garrison is full of great stories and loves the work she does. Garrison remembers a few years back when a blind Trenton woman registered for the Frisbee throw. Her granddaughter helped direct her and despite the wind, her age, and her vision, the woman went on to win a medal.
“It’s moments like that, where I see people competing just because they want to see themselves do it, that show me I don’t have much to complain about,” Garrison reminisced.
The seniors have grown to know and love Garrison and the work that she does for the community.
“I call her Coach Garrison,” joked Howard Hammes, a participant in the Senior Olympics.
More than 500 seniors will be competing in this year’s games. For some, it’s the first time they’ve ever been in a competition. For others, it’s a way of life.
Marge Maszatics, an 87-year-old athlete from Trenton, laughed as she recalled her father
saying, “The only time you were with the pack was at the starting line.”
Running may not have been for Maszatics, but she has shown herself to be one of the strongest competitors in the Downriver Senior Olympics, excelling in the horseshoe, Frisbee, and ball-throw competitions. Every year, Maszatics brings home four or five medals.
It’s not just the local competitions that Maszatics has found success in. A few years back, she took home the gold at the state competition for horseshoes and went on to place fourth at the national competition. The following year she placed second at the national competition. Maszatics competes alongside her husband and daughter and loves sharing the experience
with them each year.
“I just like competing. Say ‘games’ and I’m there. But, the most fun part of it all is getting to meet so many new people and share stories,” Maszatics said with a grin.
Much like Maszatics, 58-year-old Howard Hammes loves to compete. This will be the fourth time Hammes represents Trenton in the Downriver Senior Olympics. Hammes grew up playing sports in his backyard and went on to excel in high school athletics. Hammes always loved football and track, winning many races and even attending an open tryout for the U.S. Football League when he was younger. Hammes’ love of sports and the lessons he’s learned from them have followed him throughout his life.
“The best experience participating in the Senior Olympics has been working on testing myself each year to see how good I can get. You might lose the first year and win the next. But above all, I believe that as an athlete you should respect everyone,” Hammes said.
Hammes has won medals in the football throw, soccer kick, and the one-mile run. He looks forward to trying golfing and bicycling this year. Hammes is grateful that he has been able to continue being involved in athletics as he has aged.
“People should be thankful that there is a program like this for senior citizens. Programs like this used to not exist,” Hammes said. “Our country has come a long way.”
Whether you’re participating, know someone involved, or don’t know anyone, Garrison invites everyone to come out July 31 through Aug. 4 for the games. It has been almost 10 years since Trenton last hosted and it is likely to be another 10 before Trenton hosts again. The event is a chance for the community to come together around the senior citizens that helped make the city of Trenton what it is today.
More information on the Downriver Senior Olympics and a complete schedule and listing of events can be found at the Westfield Activities Center or by calling the office at (734) 674-0063.