Tennessee Senior Olympics call county home for ninth year
By Marcus Stone, Sports Editor
Swarms of athletes from all corners of Tennessee, age 50 to 100, have migrated to Williamson County this week as the Tennessee Senior Olympics have nested in our area for their annual seven-day event.
One such man is Crossville’s Frank Baker, though this marks the first year he comes to the event as just an administrator and not a competitor. A seven-time national medalist in bowling, Baker qualified for the 2013 National Senior Olympics but will not be able to compete after going through a bout with cancer late in 2012.
“I wish I was out there,” Baker said while administering this year’s bowling event at the Franklin Entertainment Center. “I would’ve been going to Cleveland for Nationals. I had my heart set on that, but I haven’t picked up a bowling ball since December.”
Baker started with the Senior Olympics in 1987 and has been on the board for 15 years, even serving a term as chairman. He primarily works with bowling now and is the coordinator of the Upper Cumberland district.
Tennessee is separated into 10 districts that, new to 2013, each hold events every fall with all participating athletes advancing to state finals.
Williamson County won a bidding process in 2005 and has hosted the event ever since.
Baker believes the county is great for the state event because it has all the facilities needed in a close proximity, and they’re all great facilities. A total of 13 venues are host sites, including A-Game, Academy Park, Battle Ground Academy, Christ Church, College Grove Parks and Recreation Center, Fieldstone Park, Franklin Entertainment Center, Fly Park, Franklin Recreation Complex, Indoor Sports Complex, Maryland Farms YMCA, River Park, and the Ag Expo Park.
Now in its 33rd year, the Senior Olympics expects to draw 1,900 senior athletes, aged 50 and above, to compete in 18 different sports. The organization continues to run on the mission of promoting “healthy lifestyles for seniors aged 50 and up, through fitness, sports, and an active involvement in life. Our programs contribute to the vision of healthy, active, and vital senior adults.”
The mission statement might not mention it, but competitiveness is still a factor throughout the week.
“Pretty competitive but there’s no animosity,” Baker said of the senior athletes at bowling. “Everybody seems to be friendly.”
Athletes from Williamson County have taken advantage of being hosts, winning 67 first-place medals in 2012.
Franklin’s PJ Heimermann earned three of those, winning the power walk, 200-meter run, and the 3-point shootout. He finished third or better in 10 events, coming in second at the free throw competition, hot shot, and long jump, while placing third in the 50-meter run, high jump, 100-meter run, and tennis singles.
Brentwood’s Mark Hershberger also won three events last year – the 50-yard butterfly, 50-yard backstroke, and 100-yard backstroke. He finished second in the 50-yard breaststroke and 50-yard freestyle.
The Tennessee Senior Olympics close Thursday with six events: a 6:30 a.m. 10K run at River Park, 8 a.m. tennis at Indoor Sports Complex, 8 a.m. mixed doubles pickleball at BGA, 8 a.m. 3-on-3 basketball at A-Game, and two separate bowling events at the Franklin Entertainment Center – 9 a.m. mixed doubles for 75 and over and 12 p.m. mixed doubles 65-74.
Posted on: 6/26/2013