The Northern Virginia Senior Olympics (NVSO) was scheduled to begin Saturday, Sept. 9 and to conclude Sunday, Sept. 24 … and then it wasn’t.
NVSO did begin on a bright sunny day with opening ceremonies followed by nine track events and with a record enrollment of 924 people. This was an increase of 11 percent from 2022 and the largest participation in its 40-year history. But then the rains hit and the final events were postponed the weekend of Sept. 23-24 along with a number of other events around Arlington.
Herb Levitan from Arlington, coordinator of the NVSO events, said he thinks the primary reason for the increase in participation this year was word of mouth. Forty-one percent of the participants were first timers. “Participants and volunteers shared positive experiences. Multiple people told me they were told by their spouses or friends.”
Levitan says the biggest increase was in Falls Church which nearly doubled its participants. “Arlington increased by 14 percent, Alexandria by 7 percent and Loudoun by 20 percent. Only Fauquier decreased by almost 17 percent.” NVSO is sponsored by the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.
Levitan says the greatest percentage of men were in the 70-79 year age group, and the biggest percentage of women were 75-84 year group with an equal number of men and women registered in the 50-54 year and the 95-99 age groups. Participants may register for NVSO at age 50.
The oldest participant was 100-year-old Eva Sorenson who competed in cribbage, dominoes, Rummikub and 10-pin bowling. A 90-year-old participant, Alease Brooks competed in mixed doubles and women’s doubles pickleball events and several field and track events. Alease completed against younger participants since there were no others in her age category. It’s easy to spot Brooks on the court in her colorful outfits that her grandchildren give her each year for the competition.
NVSO offered 76 events including corn hole, croquet, tennis, field and track, horseshoes, diving, basketball and football toss. Levitan said table tennis and Wi bowling had a 50 percent increase this year. New this year were disc golf, 9-hole golf (3 par), synchronized diving and advanced sudoku.
Levitan said NVSO complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will accommodate the needs of participants if requested. For instance, this year a legally blind individual competed in three race walking events with the assistance of two individuals who assisted as guides. He says in the past individuals who use wheelchairs have participated in the softball throw.
Levitan has been participating in the NVSO since 2005 and has been a member of the NVSO Board for over a decade. This year he was temporarily sidelined due to Covid and did much of the early organizing from home but was able to participate in several outdoor events once he left quarantine.
It is a massive organizational effort to manage the events at over 20 venues located in the various Northern Virginia schools, community centers and other local venues. Levitan said this year more than 250 volunteered to assist with the events.