Have a Ball

May 17, 2016

A competitive spirit doesn’t necessarily diminish with age!

That is apparent to anyone who watches residents play croquet at The Oaks of Louisiana.

A croquet lawn was installed last spring in the center of the campus and it didn’t take long to rouse interest in the recreational sport.

“I couldn’t wait for the lawn to be finished,” Opal Wimberly says.

“When they began to put it down, I was anxious for them to get through with it,” adds Lois Dukes.

Both residents, who live in Garden Apartments at The Oaks, grew up playing and enjoying croquet. They were among the first to support Holly Winterrowd-Sanders efforts to establish weekly croquet games and provide residents another opportunity to reap the health benefits of being outdoors.

Winterrowd, senior wellness coordinator for The Oaks and group exercise coordinator for WK Fitness & Wellness Centers, says being outdoors “can do more for your health than you can imagine. As little as five minutes a day can improve mood and self-esteem. It increases vitamin D levels, which is important in helping prevent chronic diseases and fighting infections such as cold and flu.”

Margaret Elrod, executive director of The Oaks, says the croquet lawn was in the community’s master plan from the beginning. “When we were doing research, there was a property in Asheville (North Carolina) that had a croquet lawn and the residents seemed to really enjoy it,” she says. “Frankly, I had fond memories of playing croquet as a child and I felt this was a way to encourage residents to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and socialize.”

“It is wonderful physical and mental exercise,” Winterrowd says. “The camaraderie is great, but what I like most is the brain health aspect to it. There is a strategy to playing.”

Wimberly and Dukes agree. They admit they were a bit passive when they first began playing, having to familiarize themselves again with the rules and developing their skills.

“They’ve really gotten aggressive,” Wintterowd says with a laugh.

“I had forgotten some of the rules, but I know how to hit the shots and get other players’ balls out of the way!” Dukes says.

“We can be vicious,” Wimberly chuckles. “It gets competitive. We make it be, but we love the fellowship with each other, and you don’t have to be athletic. Anybody can do it.”

Even ladies 87 and 88 years old!

Residents enjoy the camaraderie of croquet but are quite competitive as they devise their strategies for winning.