How many times have you heard it? There’s nothing to do in Portsmouth. I can confidently say this couldn’t be any farther from the truth.
This past Saturday I was lucky enough to see three awesome events taking place right here in our city. The Southern Ohio Senior Olympics, (Track & Field) the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund Tennis Tournament, and The Humans (Portsmouth Little Theater’s first play of the year – more on that later)
Lyvette Mosley and I met before my first Community Corner show with Gina Collinsworth. She mentioned the Senior Games and I immediately thought this would be an excellent addition to our Community Now column. Before getting into last Saturday’s events I want to discuss how everything was created. Mosley told me, “Six years ago the census report went out and Scioto County was one of the unhealthiest areas in our state. Ranked #88.” She was contacted by Larry Werstler (80 years young) about the seniors in our region needing these games. Mosley was still working full-time and wasn’t interested in adding things to her plate. Werstler was persistent with his attempts to get her to take on this project and two years later the journey began. She retired from the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities in 2014 after eight years of employment. Spent 18 years as a secretary/account clerk with the Department of Corrections and prior to this was with Merit Bank for 18 years. (One of the hardest workers I’ve ever met!) She was ready for a new challenge after 42 years of employment. She got a board together and began her research on the Senior Olympics. Immediately she was told it wouldn’t work., No one wanted to do anything. No one would sponsor the event.
Thankfully for our area Mosely is resilient and refusing to take no when She believes in something. So, she kept pushing and creating a plan. In her research the Health Coalition kept coming up and she realized they have a monthly meeting at the ADAMHS Board conference (Adams Lawrence Scioto – Alcohol & Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board) Mosley said, “At this point it became easier, She’s a ADAMHS board member.” She contacted the director assuming she would have a month to prepare a presentation on the games. She had two days. She was successful in her presentation and Ed Hughs made a motion to add Southern Ohio Senior Games to the Health Coalition. Werstler agreed to come down, Sean Boldman offered his conference room and the Holiday Inn was gracious enough to supply a room.
This is the most important part. When Mosley met Werstler for the first time in person. He told her two things. The Holy Spirit sent him to her, and that she was going to meet many people and change lives. (She HAS)
They met with several members and discussed plans and from there it was a sprint to get these games underway. She went to American Savings Bank and started an account with $3.00 and here we are four years later.
This isn’t to say it’s been all easy sailing since inception into the Ohio Senior Olympic family. There is a real struggle in getting local residents to participate and believe they can.
What I took from this event was pure joy and determination across the board. I walked into the Trojan Plaza and immediately noticed the beautiful track and the participants getting ready for their various events. Nostalgia took over for me. I thought back to running track in middle school (yes, I was terrible) and how much enjoyment I got to do it. I could see the same enjoyment from our area’s seniors. I started to take notes and take notice of everything going on. Big shout out to Will Robinson, he emceed the event and crushed it like always.
I watched a 1600-meter race and the gentleman who won it cruised in at six minutes and 18 seconds. I am confident he would have smoked me. (well done). What was also encouraging to see is that with every year we have people who attend, and then participate. This shows when an event is good. When you attend something and see how wonderful it is its second nature to want to do more and be a part of it. I met a couple from Canton that were participating and enjoying our area. Years prior, they were spectators.
This event will continue to grow. This event also made me thankful and excited for our area. Beside the track we had tennis courts featuring the Steven A. Hunter Tennis Tournament and it really felt like one big sporting event. Right in our downtown! (Be on the lookout for a column featuring Mark & Virgie Hunter and the awesome work they do.)
I asked Mosley what she hopes for in the future. She told me she hopes for “more local participants and more visiting participants and for the Southern Ohio Senior Games to continue to recognize outstanding athletes.” She tells people “we are really not competing against one another we are competing against chronic diseases.” Next weekend we have the BIG tournament. Pickleball. I hear it can get VERY competitive…Come out and support this event. #ENJOYLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-981-9158