From Humble Beginnings: Huntsman World Senior Games Turn 30
by Jeff Harding
photos courtesy of SG Photos
The Huntsman World Senior Games have come a long way since that first year in 1987 when St. George, Utah welcomed a few hundred athletes competing in a handful of sports. From those humble beginnings, the Games have grown into the world’s largest annual multi-sport event for men and women ages 50 and better. The Games take place each October and are open to athletes of all skill levels.
In 2015, the Games welcomed over 10,500 athletes to St. George. All 50 of the United States of America were represented, and athletes from more than 21 different countries took the playing field. Since 1987, the Games have hosted 76 different countries at the event, and the 30th edition is poised to be just as successful.
With so many people coming into the area, the economic impact is significant. The Games estimates that there are around $19.2 million that flow into the local economy by way of the athletes.
For 2016, the Games offer 30 different sports. From archery to volleyball, individual events to team sports, there is something for everyone. “One of the unique things about the Games,” says Kyle M Case, CEO, “is that our divisions for the sports are based on age, and wherever possible, skill level as well. This makes the event more inclusive and allows for a legitimate chance at a medal.”
Much of the success of the Games can be attributed to the philosophy founded in the early years of providing much more than just a sporting event. “The Games is a total experience,” says Case. “Each sport hosts an athlete social where the participants have an opportunity to have a great meal and create new friendships and renew old ones off the field of competition. Other social and entertainment events provide the opportunity for the athletes to socialize and enjoy themselves. And the great thing is the community is invited to take part in much of the fun as well.”
On Tuesday, October 4, the Games will officially welcome the athletes at the Opening Ceremonies. Following the tradition of the Olympics, the Ceremonies feature a Parade of Athletes, a Cauldron Lighting, and singing and dancing along with fireworks. The show takes place at the Legend Solar Stadium at Dixie State University. It’s a high energy show that is free to the public as well as athletes. In previous years, the Games has also hosted a motivational speaker – usually an Olympic or professional athlete. Previous years have included Joe Namath and Florence Griffith Joyner. In 2014, NBA super-star, Thurl Bailey, had the entire arena on their feet as he motivated with music and spoken word. Three-
time Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming, Debbie Meyers, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s event.
In addition to the Opening Ceremonies, the Games hosts the free Concert and Celebration on Tuesday, October 11. This upbeat show takes place in the Dixie State University Burn Arena at 7:00 pm and will feature an incredible Neil Diamond tribute with songs like Kentucky Woman, Sweet Caroline, and America.
Also featured this year is the Global-Cup – World Senior Volleyball Championships. This invitation only tournament will feature the very best men’s volleyball players in the world, hailing from Canada, Russia, Switzerland, and USA. The teams are comprised of former World and National Champions. The Global Cup takes place from Monday, October 10 through Thursday, October 13.
For additional information on the Games or any of its events, visit www.seniorgames.net.