Louisville to host 2007 Senior Olympics, and the crowd it draws

Louisville to host 2007 Senior Olympics, and the crowd it draws

Louisville to host 2007 Senior Olympics, and the crowd it draws

By Kate Kirby

It''s not an easy name to remember – 2007 Summer National Senior Games. But the Senior Olympics, presented by Humana, will likely leave an indelible mark on Louisville and the surrounding areas. Next summer, from June 22 through July 7, 2007, some 12,000 athletes and 20,000 spectators will descend upon the greater Louisville area to sweat, swing, swagger, and, most importantly, sway the public''s opinion of the term “seniors.”

After qualifying in their respective state games events, these seniors ages 50 plus will come from all over the United States to fight for the coveted gold medals that define an Olympic event. There are 18 medal sports offered at the Senior Olympics, ranging from softball to golf to billiards to 3-on-3 basketball. It is indeed an event like no other, and one that takes years to plan and execute.

Shortly after the Greater Louisville Sports Commission was awarded the event, Ray Hoyt was hired as the executive director of the Games. Hoyt had previously served as the executive director of the 1997 Senior Olympics in Tucson, and the 1999 Senior Olympics at Disney''s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. He was an obvious choice to lead the charge toward the 2007 event.

Hoyt began by putting a staff in place. In February 2006, he hired an administrative director, and then hired six more individuals to serve as Operations and Logistics Director, PR/Media Director, Special Events Director, Volunteer Director, Athlete Services Director, and Competition Director. This group of directors makes up the Louisville Local Organizing Committee, which reports to an independent board of directors. The organization falls under the watchful eye of the National Senior Games Association, which has been given the decree by the United States Olympic Committee to organize and run athletic events for those over the age of 50.

Even though the LLOC is a completely separate entity from the NSGA, the two organizations are still partners. Funding an event this size is no small feat, and the NSGA provides guidance on everything from software to sponsorship. The 2007 Senior Olympics was fortunate to land Humana as a presenting sponsor, which has opened up the door for other corporate partners and increased community awareness. Local and state governments have pledged support, in addition to several national and local businesses.

And what exactly have the staff members of the LLOC been doing since February?

Here''s a sampling: scheduling, planning, marketing, printing brochures, traveling to state games to recruit athletes, building a web site, creating an office space, procuring phones/faxes/computers, recruiting volunteers, forming committees, holding press conferences, meeting with NSGA representatives, learning about registration software, memorizing the sport rules, observing sporting events in the community, finding equipment, negotiating sponsorships, researching event space needs, partnering with event companies, reaching for the stars. Among other things.

The awesome thing about this event is the opportunity for the greater Louisville area to display its gold-medal hospitality and superior venues, and its ability to manage a huge, complex event. The Summer National Senior Games have been going on for 20 years, and 2007 is an opportunity for Louisville to impress the legacy of champions that is coming to Kentucky. These “seniors” will help Kentuckians smash stereotypes about aging, and Kentuckians can help the “seniors” experience the wonderful heritage of the Commonwealth.

For more information about the games, visit www.2007seniorgames.com . If you are interested in volunteering, call 502-893-1940.

Kate Kirby is the PR/Media and Volunteer Director of the Senior Olympics – Summer National Senior Games in Louisville.

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