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More than fun and games

Decathlon builds relationships, encourages active lifestyle

Created date

October 23rd, 2015
Eagle's Trace decathlon participants
Eagle's Trace decathlon participants

When retired high school principal Ray Winburn moved to Eagle’s Trace with his wife Janet in 2013, Ray started looking for ways to connect with his new neighbors. 

“Throughout life you get different opportunities, and you have to take advantage of them as they come along,” he says.

So when Ray learned that the community’s resident life committee was planning a heptathlon in 2014, Ray signed up to compete in all seven events—Wii bowling, billiards, horseshoes, Ping-Pong, putting, swimming, and washer toss.

“I thought it would be a good way to meet people,” he says. “It turned out to be better than I thought.”

At the end of the two-week heptathlon, Ray was named the overall winner in the competition. Better yet, Ray’s circle of friends at the West Houston Erickson Living community had grown significantly.

“It’s easy to bond over an activity,” says Ray. “It’s something that gives you common ground.”

From heptathlon to decathlon

This year, when resident life committee members considered a repeat of last year’s event, they tapped Ray to see if he would take the lead.

“I agreed to organize this year’s event and recruited several friends to oversee each event,” says Ray. “We also decided to increase the number of events to ten in honor of the tenth anniversary of Eagle’s Trace.”

The decathlon’s newest events were walking, bean bag toss, and a motorized scooter course.

“We wanted to expand the opportunities for everyone to participate,” says Ray. “Several people competed for the first time in the walking event.”

Ray also took into account feedback from participants in last year’s heptathlon. Last year, men and women competed against each other. This year, several events—like putting and swimming—had separate categories for men and women.

“It’s a good change,” says resident Moira Vorwerk, who competed in last year’s heptathlon and this year’s decathlon. “It levels the playing field.”

After a month-long competition in September, the top three winners in each event were recognized at an awards ceremony in early October.

“Many of the residents who competed were pushing themselves within their own capabilities,” says Ray. “They were competing against themselves as much as anybody else.”

On-site amenities

Lisa Hadley, community resources coordinator at Eagle’s Trace, says the decathlon is an illustration of the vibrant lifestyle enjoyed by residents.

“Our residents have these wonderful amenities to enjoy, and they’re taking advantage of them in meaningful ways,” says Hadley. “The swimming pool, the putting green, Wii bowling, horseshoes—these activities are all just a short walk from our residents’ apartments.”