Iowa is hosting its first-ever State Games of America later this month. It’s an Olympic-style event featuring competition between State Games medal winners from across the nation July 27th through the 31st.
Katie Kramer, director of sports and competition for the games, says there will be about 16-thousand athletes from at least 45 states taking part in more than 40 sports. “Youth soccer is our biggest one, so we have about 140 teams participating in that,” Kramer says. “Then for this event specifically with SGA, we’ve had an increase in a lot of the individual sports. So swimming, we have roughly 400 swimmers that will be competing and then figure skating as well is a big increase for us, we have just under 500.”
There will be some Iowa Games events for Iowa athletes over the five days, but for most sports, the State Games of America is replacing the Iowa Games this year. The sports will be staged in both Ames and Des Moines, and Kramer says it’s a huge honor to host this national event.
“We were awarded the bid for this in 2016 and then it was actually supposed to happen last year in 2021, but with COVID it got pushed back a year,” Kramer says. “We’ve been planning it for about six years now. It’s been fun to plan. I’d say we’re definitely ready for it. It’s been a long time coming.”
It takes about 2,000 volunteers to put on the Iowa Games, so with this event’s national scope, around 3,000 volunteers are needed for a range of jobs. “A lot of them are honestly just basic stuff, whether it be helping with packet pickup or doing swim timing, painting the soccer fields, helping with check-in,” Kramer says. “If there’s people out there that are still looking for opportunities, you don’t have to have a lot of sport knowledge and background to come help volunteer. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers. They’re very important to what we do.”
Iowans who want to compete at the national level will be able to do so at this year’s event without having to qualify, though the deadlines are approaching quickly. “A lot of our team sports or sports that are bracketed, like tennis, badminton, that deadline is July 11th, which is next Monday, and then I think the next range is like July 18th,” Kramer says, “and then even up to the Monday of the events. So those who are interested, just check the sport webpage and each one has a different deadline on there as well.”
Among the 40-plus events are traditional sports like archery, baseball and cycling to new entries like zumba, spikeball and light sabers.
Learn more about volunteering or competing at: https://www.stategamesofamerica.com/