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The opening ceremony for the 2019 State Masters Games kicked off Monday night at the Valley Community Center with competitors coming from all throughout Alabama. The competition gets started Tuesday morning. -- Wayne Clark

The 2019 Masters’ Games get started Monday

VALLEY — Valley Community Center was a busy place Monday afternoon with the opening ceremonies and the first competition in the 2019 State Masters Games taking place.

The state games have taken place in Alabama every year since 1990. Oxford hosted the first one, and Valley has been the host in 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2018 and then once again this year.

The Community Center is an ideal setting for the games. Every event except for bowling and golf can takes place inside the Center or on Center grounds.

“This is the sixth time we have hosted the state games, and we have enjoyed every minute of it,” Mayor Leonard Riley said. “We have done around $500,000 in renovations to the Community Center in the past year. We hope you enjoy your stay here and make new friends. We are very proud of our senior program in Valley, and we hope you can visit our new senior center while you are here.”

Riley thanked council members Cassie Carlisle, Marquetta Madden and Henry Cooper for being present and introduced Ray Edwards, a former council member, who welcomed everyone on behalf of the Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS), where he’s a long-time board member.

“I hope you will have a good time here in Valley,” he said. “Feel free to visit the mill store, Walmart and our restaurants on Fob James Drive and Highway 29.”

Edwards thanked members of the local legislative delegation who were present. They include State Sen. Randy Price and State Reps. Debbie Wood and Bob Fincher.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said that he was glad to be present for the state games.

“I know you want to get started with the games,” he said. “I know you have invested much of your time and enthusiasm in being here today. I want you to have a good time, make some new friends and to celebrate the fun times you have with them.”

ADSS Commissioner Jean Brown extended greetings from Gov. Kay Ivey and thanked each person in the large group for maintaining an active lifestyle.

“The sole purpose of the Alabama Department of Senior Services is to serve you,” she said. “I’d like to remind you that open enrollment for Medicare Part D starts next week. We want you to have all the prescription drug coverage you need. The state can help you with this with a new program we have.”

Brown said she was looking forward to having photos of the state games in upcoming publications.

Michael Morrison, aging director of the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission in Anniston. said it was an honor to be in the presence of so many seniors.

“I just want to express my appreciation for what your generation did for our local communities, our state and our country,” Morrison said. “I know you are ready for the games to begin.”

That statement was met with a loud roar from the crowd.

Sandy Wilson of the Masters Games committee Wilson then asked for a show of hands from those who had been born in Alabama. About 90 percent of the hands shot up.

Belva Durham the led everyone in reciting the Oath of Athletes: “We promise that we will take part in these Masters Games of Alabama, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the spirit of true sportsmanship for the glory of the sport and the honor of the state of Alabama.”

The ceremony climaxed with Roger McDonald playing the part of the Olympic torch bearer, jogging into the Community Room and circling around the seated guests to light the Flame of Hope.

After a delicious dinner, the first games were held.

At 6 p.m. EDT softball throws for women took place on the fields behind the center, and basketball free throws for men took place in the gym.

At 7:30, softball throws for men took place outside and basketball free throws for women on the inside. At 8 p.m. Nerf and Frisbee throws for men and women took place in the gym.