Walker on croquet: ‘I know the game’

Former state champ takes on county competition

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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ROCKINGHAM — In a phrase, Don Walker has been there and done that.

Walker has competed in the 25th annual Senior Games of Richmond County in the game of shuffleboard at the Hamlet Senior Center. He didn’t focus on what might have been, but did reflect on what was.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Don Walker competes in the men's 80 to 84 age bracket on Thursday at Browder Park in croquet, part of the 25th annual Senior Games of Richmond County.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Don Walker competes in the men’s 80 to 84 age bracket on Thursday at Browder Park in croquet, part of the 25th annual Senior Games of Richmond County.

Walker won the county gold medal several times in croquet and at least once in the state Games. In 2007, he traveled to Louisville, Ky. to compete in the national competition.

But on Thursday, the game was croquet. And Walker was now in the men’s 80 to 84 age division. It’d been a few years since he last played.

“I’ve lost it all,” Walker recalled before a lunch break. “But it’s so much fun. I know the game.”

Walker explained that these days, his aim of the mallet is hampered by an uncontrollable tremble. He figured he’d made it only halfway through before the rest of the field finished.

“I’ll probably quit,” Walker said.

He didn’t, as Walker and nearly two dozen other competitors each finished their attempt at croquet for gold, silver and bronze at Browder Park in Rockingham. Croquet, like golf, is a gentleman’s game and requires honesty of each player. Walker fit right in.

“That’s a foul,” he called on himself as h

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Azalea Bolton said friendship are put aside when players are on the croquet pitch.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Azalea Bolton said friendship are put aside when players are on the croquet pitch.

e his mallet hit the white-painted wicket. The foul required his ball be placed back at the original spot. He lost his turn.

“I talk cheatin’ all the time,” Walker said, “but I don’t cheat.”

As is custom for the county Games, some athletes were more competitive than others. Some were sticklers for the rules.

Volunteer coordinator Terry Mercer asked the first group of women if they wanted to draw colors or simply pick their favorite. It turns out offering two options wasn’t the simplest way to go.

“My favorite color isn’t here,” noted Evelyn Snow.

“I’m sorry we don’t have blue,” Mercer said, offering her one of the available colors of red, orange, green and black.

Snow wasn’t done. A Games veteran, she believed the wickets might not be accurately placed.

“It looks like it’s in the wrong place,” Snow said of one wicket in particular.

“We measured it,” Mercer assured.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Ida Mae Malloy goes for a shot.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Ida Mae Malloy goes for a shot.

Later on, a player asked about knocking an opponent’s ball out of the way. It’s fair game, Mercer said.

“That’s the way they play at state,” Mercer said. “They play mean” — but within the rules.

While personal friendships, old and new, were aplenty during the morning session, Rockingham resident Azalea Bolton knew they were temporarily put aside.

“There are no friends when you’re playing sports,” Bolton said.

Related coverage
Official results (through Tuesday)
* April 22: “Gimme that ball”
* April 20: “There’s so much talent” at Silver Arts
* April 18: Seniors take flight on field day
*  April 17: Bowling with ‘Games face on’
* April 16: McLain on the Games: “I’m back”
* April 15: Pickleball ‘a tongue hanging out game’
* April 14: Taylor, Clemmons, Wells lead swimming
* April 14: Women’s bocce
* April 13: Opening ceremony
* April 13: Men’s bocce ball opens Games
* March 18: Last day to register
* March 9: No rhythm required
* Feb. 8: Senior Games set for April
* Oct. 18, 2014: 4 locals win gold at NC Senior Games

 

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