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Seniors in Their 80s and 90s Rigorously Compete in Water Volleyball Matches
Holly Jones, wellness coordinator at GreenRidge at Buckner Villas, came to Joe and Barbara Miles, 82-year-old residents at GreenRidge at Buckner Villas, with the idea and together the three eagerly collaborated on the idea and changed the rules to structure a game that would be ideal for seniors. Carl Morris, a 90-year-old resident at GreenRidge at Buckner Villas, regularly plays the games and thinks it was a brilliant idea because seniors have the ability to be more agile in the water.
“It is really something when you see residents who normally use canes and walkers get into the pool, discard their assistive mobility mechanisms and play a game of water volleyball,” shared Barbara Miles. “Playing in the water is easier on the joints and allows people to move in ways they would not be able to move if they were outside of the water. Impressively, six of our regular players play with pacemakers. Playing this sport helps us maintain our strength and abilities. I usually have good luck when serving. I once served 10 points straight!”
Six residents play on a team and play three games of 21 points. A team can only play for two wins. This way everyone gets the opportunity to compete in the matches. The teams compete with a giant beach ball, as it prevents players from getting injured and is easy for people with vision impairment to spot because of the bright colors. Joe Miles volunteers to referee the games.
“I coached at Crockett High School for 15 years and taught health education for 9 years after that,” said Joe Miles. “Once you are a coach, that competitive spirit never does leave you. I played in the water volleyball matches for a good year-and-a-half and then volunteered my services as referee. We play by old school rules. The only team who can get points is the team who is serving. It is a fun, lively competition and we get a lot of residents who come out to spectate. The community will serve sporting event snacks and hand out noise makers to attendees. The best moments are when rallies occur as the ball flies back and forth over the net and people make some pretty crazy shots!”
In addition to water volleyball matches, the Mileses also participate in water aerobics classes and golf regularly together in the fall and spring. Having grown up around siblings who played sports, having played sports themselves, raised two athletic sons and supported their two granddaughters whom both pursued volleyball, the Mileses have always had an appreciation for sports and the physical aptitude it takes to play them.
“It is important to develop a healthy and active lifestyle when you are young, because before you know it you are starting to get old,” shared Joe Miles. “Your health later on will depend on the habits you build now. We all want to maintain what we have. We do not want to lose our strength or our strong vitals.”
Carl Morris regularly lifts weights and works out in the gym. He has lifted over 3 million pounds of weights since moving into GreenRidge at Buckner Villas. He is quickly on his way to achieving his goal of lifting over 4 million pounds of weights. He enjoys competing in the water volleyball matches to maintain his health and complement his strength training.
“I really enjoy playing in the matches,” said Morris. “I also train with free weights and pre-programmed machinery in our gym. We can set up our preferences on the machinery and it tracks our performance. Playing in the matches and keeping up with my physical strength training makes me feel more mobile and gives me more energy to do things. When the water volleyball matches start we always have a full house; every single chair is taken. We have a lot of ladies in their 80s who play and the best thing for me is seeing some of them make great returns. It does my heart good.”
“The water volleyball matches are a big hit and we are delighted that the residents have been actively involved with them,” said Holly Jones, wellness coordinator at GreenRidge at Buckner Villas. “It is important to us that we get the residents’ input when trying to come up with new things to do within the community. It was wonderful working with the Mileses on making this idea come to life. Developing healthy habits and maintaining them as you get older are all important factors for aging gracefully.”
The water volleyball matches are one of the many activities offered through the Be Well Program at GreenRidge at Buckner Villas, a program with the mission of keeping residents mentally, physically and socially active.