The GVR Southern Arizona Senior Games will be back in March but limited to seven outdoor events.
The organizations involved determined it most feasible to proceed with just outdoor events due to uncertainties surrounding COVID, GVR spokeswoman Natalie Whitman said. She refers to GVR Foundation, a non-profit established in 2015 which has made the games a project, and Green Valley Recreation, which coordinates the event.
The last traditional games took place in 2019. In 2020, the pandemic canceled them midway through, and last spring, forced cancellation altogether. This would have been the event’s 36th year.
A proposal under discussion among leadership calls for the 2022 games to feature seven outdoor sports rather than 30-plus outdoor and indoor events pre-COVID. Likely featured would be bocce, shuffleboard, pickleball, tennis, swimming, volleyball and cycling.
Staffing the event is another challenge, Whitman said. To pull it off, GVR has listed an event coordinator position in its weekly members update, seeking a paid manager whose duties could encompass only the games and/or become permanent to GVR including other duties. As of 2020, GVR had 22,414 members.
Previously, a GVR recreation staffer was customarily assigned to coordinate volunteers and take care of event-related administrative tasks.
“During the steady stream of changes brought by the pandemic, GVR administration has remained nimble in terms of staffing — reassigning some staff and changing job descriptions where needed,” Whitman said.
Currently, there’s no one with the capacity to manage the games on their own.
“Members of the (foundation) board have answered the call for volunteers, but we’ll need many more,” possibly 40-plus, Whitman estimates. Staff is recruiting among GVR clubs; if that doesn’t yield enough, non-GVR members might also be tapped.
Until GVR recreation supervisor Karen Rans retired in 2019, she’d overseen the games for 14 years. Two years prior, the latest for which numbers were readily available, the event drew 904 participants from Green Valley and beyond, involving numerous support staff.
GVR assumed oversight of the games in 2005 to guarantee liability coverage; before then, it was managed by an ad hoc committee, which it was discovered, never had such insurance. Leaders decided it made most sense for GVR, which has the appropriate policy, to take charge of the games, which is what transpired.