It’s a classic sports tale – a team with no experience, who values teamwork and camaraderie over winning, takes home Olympic gold. That’s the story of just one of the many athletic teams from a Lutheran Senior Services Life Plan Community!
“It’s not all about winning. It’s fun; it’s good to get to know people and talk with them. There’s a lot of camaraderie amongst the players,” said Charlie Hoffman, a water volleyball player at Meridian Village, located in Glen Carbon, Illinois. “Winning’s always fun. But to me including everyone, players who are brand new or maybe have disability, is more important than winning.”
Though Charlie and his wife Linda Hoffman had played volleyball in the past, neither had ever played an aquatic sport. But they dove into the game upon moving into Meridian Village four years ago. There was enough interest among residents that they could form three full teams.
“We are very inclusive. There are no tryouts. Anyone who wants to play, gets to play. Anyone who wants to be in the Senior Olympics gets to go,” said Linda Hoffman.
After practicing three times per week regularly, they decided to participate in the St. Louis Senior Olympics, a Masters-style athletic competition that promotes health and wellness by providing opportunities for adults age 50+ to participate in competitive sports and social events.
Lutheran Senior Services was well represented in water volleyball at the most recent Senior Olympics. Teams from Laclede Groves, Meramec Buffs, Meridian Village, and Breeze Park competed. Meridian Village brought three teams to the games, including the only all-female team.
Meridian Village took Gold, Aberdeen Heights took Silver, and Laclede Groves took Bronze.
Residents at Concordia Village in Springfield, Illinois also love playing water volleyball. A favorite event is a Residents vs. Staff game where residents and Concordia Village staff members play against each other. Everyone wins because afterwards they all enjoy ice cream. “A lot of our residents are athletic. We had one resident who went to the Senior Olympics in Arizona for track,” said Greta Huseman, Director of Lifestyle Enrichment for Concordia Village.
Even if water volleyball doesn’t sound like your thing, Linda Hoffman recommends everyone try something new and to be as active as you can be. “Just try it out! If you don’t like it, you don’t have to continue. But you just might find you like something you’ve never tried before!”