A friendly competition and a great place to make friends

-A A +A

Brunswick Senior Games

By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

At least three times a week, Bill Davis hits the basketball court to shoot some hoops. But that’s not all; on the other days he plays tennis.

This avid athlete turned 78 in January.

Davis isn’t alone in his passion for sports. Brunswick County Parks and Recreation’s senior programs officials have paired Davis with others in his age range who share a common interest.

Davis and his teammates on the Brunswick County Coasters are busy preparing for the upcoming Senior Games competition.

He has been a part of a team that claimed first place in the state competition five times and he has played in the national competition three times.

“I do like to win,” Davis said with a smile.

In addition to competing in the basketball competition, Davis plans to compete in other Brunswick County Gator Senior Games events this year including tennis, ping-pong and pool.

Senior Games have provided Davis much more than competition during the years; he has developed lasting friendships as well.

After retiring from IBM, Davis and his wife moved to Boiling Spring Lakes from New York. He and his wife discovered the area through a book called “Retirement Places Rated.”

“Southport was number 11 of 100,” he said.

Davis and his wife visited the area one weekend during the summer. They came back that same winter and bought a house—that was 21 years ago in 1992.

Two years later in 1994 Davis found what he still calls “the best buy in town”—the Brunswick County Gator Senior Games. He calls it the best buy because for $12 you can participate in 80 events and registration includes a T-shirt. (There are additional charges for bowling and golfing events.)

Participants can choose from more than 80 events including golf, bowling, swimming, shuffleboard, table tennis, running, walking and horseshoes.

Brunswick County Gator Senior Games also offers competition in SilverArts, which includes all heritage, literary and performing arts. Qualifiers in Brunswick County Gator Senior Games are invited to compete each fall in the state finals.

For Davis, like many others who participate, the Senior Games are a way of bringing friends together and to form new friendships.

“I’ve made some terrific friendships that I wouldn’t have met otherwise through Senior Games,” Davis said. “It really adds to my quality of life.”

At the conclusion of the 2012 Senior Games, Davis was honored as the recipient of the “Spirit of Senior Games” award.

“Bill was awarded because he truly embodies what Senior Games is all about,” said Brunswick County Gator Senior Games and SilverArts coordinator Khrystye Haselden. “Bill is an ideal example of healthy aging. He lives, eats and breathes this example…this zest for life and learning, meeting new people and striving for progress in improving his community has left me in awe.”

Basketball has always been a part of Davis’ life. He played in high school, college and in the Army. He coached children’s teams for years.

This year he will compete in the 75-79 age group with several teammates from Brunswick County.

Davis and fellow players in the Senior Basketball program meet 3:30-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at Supply Elementary School. There is an open invitation to all interested players ages 55 and older.

When Davis isn’t shooting hoops, he can be found practicing his backhand on the tennis court.

“I took up tennis later in life. I was in my late 40s. I loved the game and have been playing ever since,” Davis said.

He encourages others to try a new activity even if they’ve never done it before.

“Give it a try. You are never too old to learn,” he said.

Writing is another talent he has cultivated in his senior years.

Davis loves sports so much, he has been writing as a sports correspondent for a local newspaper for the past five years and he has been a writer for a travel magazine. “I spent all of my career in manufacturing and almost all of it in management. I hadn’t done any writing since high school and college,” he said.

Davis said there is a possibility he will enter some of his writing into the SilverArts competition this year.

“Senior Games began with a vision to create a year round health promotion and wellness education program for people 55 years of age and better,” Haselden said. “It focuses on keeping the body, mind and spirit fit while enjoying the company of friends, family, spectators and volunteers. Senior Games loves the five ‘F’ words: fitness, family, fellowship, fun and friends.”

For more information on the upcoming Brunswick County Gator Senior Games and SilverArts call 253-2670 or email KHaselden@brunsco.net.

Registration is under way for the 2013 competition, which kicks off with opening ceremonies on April 3.

The deadline to register is Wednesday, March 6. Registration information may be found online at www.brunsco.net under parks and recreation.

Brunswick County Gator Senior Games is sanctioned by North Carolina Senior Games and one of 54 local Senior Games offered statewide by the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services.

For more information on N.C. Senior Games, visit ncseniorgames.org.

Rachel Johnson is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or rjohnson@brunswickbeacon.com.