The Huntsman World Senior Games features several long-running athletic events, like softball or basketball, but new events are being added virtually every year. This year’s competition included adding sand volleyball.
The world-class competition attracts a diverse group of players to this competition, including California native Margie Wiher and Tennessee resident Linda Horenkamp.
“We play indoor volleyball and this is the first time they’ve offered sand volleyball, and we love this game as well so we thought we’d come out and give it a try, and it’s been great so far,” Wiher said.
Camaraderie and friendships are significant parts of the Senior Games, but playing at great venues is another, and sand volleyball competitors are enjoying Dixie State College’s new courts.
Tournament coordinator Richard Downer appreciates the college’s hospitality.
“They [DSC officials] were willing to let us come in and we know these are for the students, but they thought this was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how, as we grow older which is something we’ll all do, keeping competitive sports, volleyball being one, in one’s life is still very possible,” Downer said.
The scenic setting of volleyball invokes fond memories in players while reminding athletes of the artistic movement in competition.
“It’s a dance; defense to offense and talking and knowing front to back and where to go,” Wiher said. “You feel your partner, you know where they’re at and you cover where they’re not, and it’s really two people working well together.”
One advantage competitors enjoy about sand volleyball is the ease of the playing surface on an athlete’s body.
“And the older you get, the easier the sand court is on the joints, especially the knees and the back,” Horenkamp said.
Of course, helping seniors enjoy the fun and frolic of St. George isn’t the Huntsman World Senior Games’ only goal, especially for sand volleyball. Indeed, the goal of the tournament organizers is to eventually one day, attract enough players to host a world championship here in St. George.
“We automatically start thinking international championship-caliber play,” Downer said. “It’s what happened with the indoor tournament, where we started and grew it until we were drawing in teams from all over the world, and then eventually developed a global cup, which created a world championships. We see that the sand tournament can be the same.”