Eight for Eight: Arbor Acres Residents Win Big in State Senior Croquet Finals
95 Year Old Outplays Younger Competition to Take Home Gold
By Martha Murphy
Croquet is one of the oldest recreational sports in England, and it has become quite popular on this side of the pond, too—just ask the residents of Arbor Acres!
For more than 25 years, Arbor Acres has engaged residents in croquet play on a professional-grade course that has been host to many local and regional senior competitions. Now 50+ members strong, Arbor Acres’ Croquet Club is taking their croquet play to a new level.
In September, Arbor Acres had an unprecedented showing at the North Carolina Senior Games in Raleigh: eight residents qualified to play in the state croquet finals, and each one brought home an individual medal based on respective age and gender brackets. The final take: five gold medals, two silver and one bronze.
The players advanced to the state finals this spring after winning their divisions in the local competition, the Piedmont Plus Senior Games and Silver Arts, which Arbor Acres hosted. At State Finals, the retirement center’s finalists competed against players statewide who qualified from the 53 local Senior Games that took place earlier this year.
“This is the best showing in croquet Arbor Acres has had at the state level,” says gold-medal winner Chan Chandler, co-chair of the Croquet Committee. “Croquet is a very popular sport here, and while we take competition seriously, it’s a friendly competition. We support each other and have fun along the way. But I have to say it’s gratifying when our hard work pays off.
True Grit—Even at 95!
“This year, we’re especially proud of our own Betty Richardson, who took home a gold medal in the 95-99 age group—she turned 96 a week after the finals!”
According to Winborne Chandler, Betty’s competitive spirit was on full display in the Raleigh finals. When she arrived, Betty learned she was the only women’s player in the 95-99 age bracket and was told she would have to play through a game by herself in order to win the gold medal. That was too easy—she wanted a greater challenge. So Betty identified two younger players willing to compete against her—and she still brought home the gold!
The Secret Sauce: Homemade Mallets
Croquet players from around the state claim they know the secret behind Arbor Acres’ consistently good showing at local and regional competitions. In addition to regular practice sessions, some members of the retirement community’s team use wooden mallets handcrafted by two resident artisans, Ron Vinson and John Albright. These master woodworkers make the regulation mallets in their workshops on campus.
“We love the camaraderie of working together to create croquet mallets for other players here to use,” says John. “Woodworking for us is more than a hobby—it’s a passion.”
Martha Murphy is the Marketing Arts Specialist for Arbor Acres Retirement Community.
Arbor Acres’ 2017 State Seniors’ Croquet Winners
Betty Richardson, Gold, 95-99 age group
Emily Lambeth, Gold, 80-84 age group
Liz Vinson, Bronze, 75-79 age group
Winborne Chandler, Gold, 70-74 age group
Charles Duckett, Gold, 85-89 age group
Hamp Lefler, Silver, 80-84 age group
Ron Vinson, Silver, 75-70 age group
Chan Chandler, Gold, 70-74 age group
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