By Craig Vonder Haar
Water volleyball is a sport that has quickly become popular among senior citizens.
The Four Rivers Area Family YMCA in Washington currently has two water volleyball teams for senior citizens.
“It’s for seniors ages 50 and older who want to play volleyball,” said team coordinator Liz Anderson. “It’s a social outlet for a lot of the seniors. It’s also great exercise.”
The Star Fish is the team made up of players ages 50-64. The Snappers have an age group of 65 and older.
Anderson, the water fitness coordinator at the YMCA, started water volleyball at the facility four years ago.
“I wanted to try something different. It’s really grown quite a bit. We started with 12 people four years ago and now we have over 50,” Anderson said. “We welcome any senior who wants to play to contact me. You don’t have to be a member of the YMCA.”
The club usually gets together once a week, mainly on Friday mornings, throughout the entire year. The cost is $2 per session, which goes to the purchase of equipment.
Competing recently in the Franklin County Silver Games, the Star Fish and the Snappers both won gold medals.
The teams also compete in the St. Louis Senior Olympics.
“The oldest player on our team is 85,” Anderson said. “There are players in St. Louis who are in their 90s.”
Two members of the team who are regular participants are Cheryl Keller of Union and Marilyn Sullentrup of Washington.
“I get here and play whenever I can. It’s enjoyable,” Keller said. “There’s low impact in the water. It’s great exercise. It keeps you on your toes. You also get to know a lot of nice people.”
Sullentrup had similar feelings about playing on the team.
“My husband (David Sullentrup) and I both play on the team. David is tall and really good,” Sullentrup said. “It’s a great workout. You really don’t even think about the fact that you’re working out because you’re having fun. It’s a unique sport.”
Senior water volleyball is coed played with a beach ball. Nine players play on each side of the net, three players making up three rows. No more than five men at a time can be playing for the same team. There is unlimited hits on each side of the net.
Each game goes to 15 points using a best two-of-three format.
“When you get in the water, it doesn’t hurt near as much when you fall, which is obviously better for seniors,” Anderson said. “It can be competitive, but everyone is there to have fun. There’s a lot of laughing. It’s a friendly competition.”
The YMCA in Washington will hold a fundraiser water volleyball tournament in January, which will bring in teams from St. Louis.
Anderson sees the sport maintaining its popularity.
“The biggest thing for the seniors is that it’s a great way to exercise and everyone has fun doing it,” Anderson said. “As long as it keeps growing, I think we’ll be around for a while.”
Any individual age 50 and older who is interested in joining the YMCA water volleyball team, whether a member or not, can call Liz Anderson at the YMCA. Her number is 636-239-5704, extension 307.
The Missourian: Washington, MO
By Craig Vonder Haar