City ex­pects thou­sands for Se­nior Games in June

3,000 vol­un­teers needed for na­tional event

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - Jes­sica Dyer Jes­sica Dyer: [email protected]­

The pick­le­ballers are on their way, Al­bu­querque.

More than 6,000 ath­letes have al­ready reg­is­tered for the Na­tional Se­nior Games sched­uled for June 14-25 in Al­bu­querque, of­fi­cials told the City Coun­cil last week. With the en­try dead­line still about two months away, City Se­nior Af­fairs Di­rec­tor Anna Sanchez told the Coun­cil many more are ex­pected.

“I think we’re go­ing to well ex­ceed the 10,000 (goal),” she said.

And that’s just com­peti­tors — the two-week event is ex­pected to bring about 15,000 fam­ily mem­bers and friends to town, she said.

Ta­nia Ar­menta, pres­i­dent and CEO of Visit Al­bu­querque, said she was “con­ser­va­tively” es­ti­mat­ing the event would sell about 20,000 ho­tel rooms around the city.

Pick­le­ball — a pad­dle sport played with some­thing akin to a wif­fle ball — is among the most pop­u­lar sports for en­trants, but the lineup also in­cludes cy­cling, swim­ming, track, bas­ket­ball, soft­ball, archery and even shuf­fle­board.

Of­fi­cials said 10 work­ing com­mit­tees are help­ing the city pre­pare and that ev­ery city depart­ment has some­how chipped in.

But more help is needed: run­ning the games will take about 3,000 vol­un­teers, Sanchez said.

“We will take any­body — from the young tod­dler cheer­ing on folks fin­ish­ing the cy­cling to also those who can help us pass out fruit and re­fresh­ments to the ath­letes maybe go­ing down the trail,” she said.

Vol­un­teers and spec­ta­tors may spot a fa­mil­iar face or two dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tions: Coun­cilor Ken Sanchez noted that fel­low Coun­cilor Brad Win­ter would be com­pet­ing.

He set the bar pretty high for Win­ter — a pole vault sil­ver medal­ist dur­ing the 2017 Se­nior Games — say­ing “we will have ... a na­tional cham­pion af­ter the games.”

“Thank you, coun­cilor,” Win­ter re­sponded. “I just hope my body holds up un­til then.” To find out about vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties, call 764-6400.

NEW (PUB­LIC) FACES: Al­bu­querque Mayor Tim Keller has a new com­mu­ni­ca­tions team. Matt Ross is the sec­ond-year mayor’s new com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor.

Ross, who pre­vi­ously held the same job with the City of Santa Fe, re­places Ali­cia Man­zano, who took a po­si­tion in the city’s Cul­tural Ser­vices Depart­ment.

Jessie Da­mazyn is Keller’s new pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer. She was an Al­bu­querque-based press sec­re­tary for Michelle Lu­jan Gr­isham when the now-gover­nor was in Congress.

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