LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Athletes across the state are participating in many games tonight and over the weekend. Dozens of matches are happening across Luzerne County.
The last time Keystone State Games came to Luzerne County was back in 2019. Last year they had to cancel because of the pandemic, but athletes are excited to be back.
Concentration and precision are just part of winning at bocce.
“Oh, I like hitting the other players out. And I like to win. I’m very competitive,” bocce player Tony Russo said.
Keystone State Games kicked off this week. More than 20 games are being played throughout Luzerne County.
“We had a great turnout. So you know, we’re really excited to be able to bring it to Old Forge, pizza capital of the world. And we hope this becomes a tradition,” bocce leader Mike Galli said.
New traditions have been forming since the games started in 1983.
“It’s my third year playing here. It’s pretty fun. Get to play with new kids, kids you’ve never played with before,” hockey player Jonathan Kupp said.
“We’re really excited to be back in Luzerne County for our Keystone Games. We’re looking at 2,500 to 3,000 athletes coming in throughout this weekend to participate in a lot of fun,” Executive Director of the games, Jim Costello, said.
Costello says coming off the pandemic, this year’s games hold extra significant as it promotes better health and disease prevention.
“We really focus on providing our athletes in this community with a safe event so we focus on outdoor events and it has worked out really well,” Costello said.
Everyone with all abilities are out getting their heart rates up while improving their health.
“It’s rougher because we don’t play as much hockey and there are no practices, you’re just tired most of the time,” Kupp said.
The pandemic did change some things this year. They did not bring back wrestling, karate, or swimming, because of close contact. The games run until this Sunday.