Sports are good for our quality of life – they keep us healthy and teach us about teamwork.
Five ways to enjoy the State Games of America
In less than 20 days, West Michigan will host the 2017 State Games of America (Aug. 3-6) for the first time in Michigan, welcoming 12,000 athletes and 25,000 attendees from 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada plus 25,000 attendees. Our team at the Meijer State Games of Michigan and West Michigan Sports Commission is making final preparations for this to be a not-to-miss event, and that includes helping you make the most of it.
Here are five ways to participate in the State Games of America.
1. Compete – There is still time to compete! With 48 sports in 60 events at 35 venues across West Michigan (from Muskegon to Caledonia), you’re bound to find a sport to your liking – from baseball, hockey and volleyball, to beach wrestling, darts and pickleball. Michigan residents don’t have to prequalify* to compete, and online registration is open until Aug. 1. Even after that, many sports still allow in-person registration (check individual sports events listings for details). Once registered, book your hotel since rooms are going fast.
2. Cheer on athletes – All 48 events are open to the public, and athletes love to be cheered on and supported. Pick the viewing strategy that works for you –
· Follow your favorite sport at one venue – If you love a sport, hunker down at that venue and watch all the athletes compete. A popular sport will be figure skating at Patterson Ice Arena, which doubles as a U.S. Figure Skating national competition that these athletes have been training for all year.
· Visit different venues all weekend – See a smattering of events across the region, including beach wrestling at Muskegon State Park! Buy a $10 Spectator Event Pass for access to all sports venues and special events (except the Opening Ceremony) or a $20 Super Pass that includes the above plus Opening Ceremony tickets and restaurant discounts. Super Pass sales end Aug. 1, after which individual event tickets can be purchased on site at varying prices per event. Children under 3 are free.
· Spend the day at DeVos – Hang out at DeVos Place, where a $5 day pass gets you access to events for 13 sports inside, including gymnastics, BMX freestyle, weightlifting, yoga, (yes, competitive yoga is a sport!) and more.
3. Watch the Opening Ceremony – We kick things off in true Olympic fashion with an Opening Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4 at Van Andel Arena. The ticketed event is open to the public and expected to sell out. It begins with the Parade of Athletes – a spectacle featuring all 12,000 athletes entering by state with their flags. Other highlights include a nationally renowned trampoline show, laser light show, lighting of the torch, attendance by Olympians and other surprises. Purchase your ticket beforehand to guarantee a spot. Tickets are $5 for athletes and $15 for spectators online in advance, or $10 for athletes and $20 for spectators the day of the event (if available).
4. Attend a free community event – The State Games of America is cause for celebration, and we’ll be doing it up with a smattering of free community events in Grand Rapids. Enjoy Athlete Village in Rosa Parks Circle Friday, Aug. 4 at 2-7p.m., featuring food trucks, games, entertainment, and 105.3 Hot FM broadcasting live. Go next to DeVos Place to visit Energy Alley showcasing fun games and exciting exhibits, such as the America*s Navy Nimitz Experience-STEM Tour with 8 virtual reality machines, photo booth, PT yard and premium giveaways.
5. Volunteer – It takes many hands to run an event this size, and it wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteers (more than 1,000 to be exact!). Be part of this historic event and sign up for a four-hour volunteer shift! Volunteers receive a t-shirt, access to the hospitality area, free entry to the Opening Ceremony, and credentials to get into sporting events. Or register your organization to do a group volunteer experience. Groups can contact Melissa Greko to discuss group volunteer opportunities, and individuals can register online.
* Out-of-state athletes must qualify by winning gold, silver or bronze medals in their respective State Games.
I truly enjoy the social connections made possible by organized sports.
Eight years ago, my husband, Andy Vidro, and I got the idea to organize triathlons in the Grand R