Granite State Senior Games take flightBy JOHN HABIB
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 12. 2014 9:59PM
Pickleball and track and field are the two most popular events this summer in the Granite State Senior Games, which is currently underway across New Hampshire.
“Pickleball is the most popular event we run right now, so popular that we couldn’t take more than 110 applicants this summer,” said Jim Eddinger of Goffstown, chairman of the Games. Pickleball is a sport that combines tennis, table tennis and badminton. Using a regular tennis net, players serve a thick plastic Wiffle ball-type ball underhand with a wooden or aluminum paddle. Points can be obtained only by the server; the first player to reach 11 points wins the game.
Pickleball will be held today (doubles), Thursday (mixed doubles) and Friday (singles) at the Plaistow Community YMCA, 175 Plaistow Road (Route 125). One can call 382-0641 for more information on the starting times.
In 2011, only 43 people signed up for pickleball, Eddinger said.
“The number grew to 50 in 2012 to 74 last year to 109 this year. Pickleball will eventually surpass track and field in total participation because pickleball is really sweeping the nation,” said Eddinger. “Next year, we’ll have more sites for pickleball to allow more people to participate. Track and field will still remain strong. This year we have close to 140 participants for track.”
Eddinger said 422 athletes statewide are participating in 526 overall events.
Senior players compete in their own age groups (50-54, 55-59; 60-64; 65-69; 70-74; 75-79; 80-plus) with a chance to qualify for the National Senior Games in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., next July. Last year, 86 senior athletes represented New Hampshire at the national games.
There’s still time to register for some events in the Games, now in their 27th season.
Eddinger said “Folks can still sign up for golf, track and field, cycling, a 5K road race and tennis.”
Swimming events will begin Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Granite YMCA, 116 Goffstown Back Road in Goffstown.
Manchester Memorial High School will host track and field and a 1,500-meter race walk beginning at 9 a.m. at Chabot-McDonough Field. There will be a division for ages 45-49 this year in track and field.
Basketball takes center stage on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 8 a.m. at the Plaistow Community YMCA. The event features 3-on-3 halfcourt games for men and women. Playing time is two 15-minute periods.
Cycling will be held Sunday, Aug. 24 beginning at 9 a.m. This summer, cycling will offer 5K and 10K time trials. There’s also a 20K/40K race-within-a-race in which participants are timed at 20K and again at 40K. Cyclists must provide their own bicycles and helmets and can register right up to race day. The event starts at 915 Holt Ave. in Manchester.
Runners have until Friday to register for the 5K race, which will be held in conjunction with the St. Charles 5K road race on Monday Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth.
It’s a certified 5K road race. Electronic timing will be used. Competitors in all age groups will run together. To enter and to qualify for the National Senior Games in 2015, runners must register with the Granite State Senior Games and must pick up their race numbers at the Granite State Senior Games tent site.
Tennis players have until Saturday to register. The Granite YMCA will host the singles tennis tournament on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 12:30 p.m. and the doubles and mixed doubles tournament on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 8:30 a.m.
The Country Club of New Hampshire in North Sutton is hosting the Granite State Senior Games golf tournament on Wednesday, Sept. 10. The shotgun start tournament begins at 10 a.m. and the greens fee includes a cart. Deadline to register is Sept. 3.
The public is welcome to attend all these events.
To register for the remaining events, one can go to http://www.nhseniorgames.org. For more information, call Eddinger at 533-6975 or e-mail him at email@example.com.