By Lily Belcher
On October 4, the 40th annual Active Life Games kicked off for Tampa Bay area seniors 50 and older with participants from Eastern Hillsborough County. The games are designed to encourage activity in senior residents to improve their physical and mental health.
This year’s Active Life Games, formally known as the Tampa Bay Senior Games, was hosted at Carrollwood Village Park. Over 375 seniors participated in games, such as track, pickleball and shuffleboard. Each sport was divided into three age brackets (50-54, 55-59 and 60-64) and the top five athletes from each age and sport category advanced to the state games.
“Pickleball—that is our huge event, said Troy Stewart, who led the organization of the 2021 Active Life Games. “We had pickleball men’s, pickleball women’s and then we had mixed doubles. We had over a hundred participants in those two combined.”
Seniors who registered got to select which games they wanted to participate in and which group (based on age and gender) they wanted to join. Seniors were encouraged to continue their love of community sports after the games with fellow senior athletes in their recreation centers.
Last year, the Active Life Games were cancelled due to the coronavirus, but Stewart was able to continue the tradition this year with an outdoor venue and sanitization process for equipment. While navigating the newfound need for health and safety precautions, Stewart made many new memories with the participants, saying, “having a blast with each other and the comradery with being with the seniors and laughing and joking with them” was the best part.
Stewart led the development of this year’s Olympic-style event after taking over when the original coordinator left two months before the games. He said that his team supported and assisted him throughout the finalizing of the plans and during the event.
“Moving forward to next year, we ask that each participant invite at least one or two people, and that will help double us to about 600 participants,” said Stewart.
The 41st annual Active Life Games are tentatively planned for the first two weeks of October 2022. Seniors can register at hillsboroughcounty.org or request a paper registration via mail.
For more information, contact Stewart at 813-344-8415.