Meijer State Games Spotlight: Connor Lukas
Thousands of athletes of all ages and abilities will gather this weekend to compete in Michigan’s Olympic-style event, the 7th Annual Meijer State Games of Michigan. During the weekend of June 23-26, 2016, the Summer Games will host competitions in 42 sports throughout West Michigan. One of the 8,000 athletes expected to compete in this year’s Summer Games is 21-year-old Ultimate Frisbee player Connor Lukas.
Lukas, a senior at Grand Valley State University, got his start in the Meijer State Games three years ago, when the competition first offered a tournament in Ultimate Frisbee. His team won second place in the State Games’ first ever Ultimate Frisbee tournament, earning a silver medal. After a few years on hiatus, Ultimate Frisbee will return to the Meijer State Games this year and so will Lukas.
Ultimate Frisbee is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. It now boasts a 32-team professional league and has been recognized by the Olympics as a sport. It is one of the newest sports to the Meijer State Games along with field hockey and flag football. In the last few years, Ultimate Frisbee has grown in popularity among teenagers and young adults.
“Ultimate Frisbee stresses spirit of the game. This helps keep competition high, but the energy and the atmosphere friendly,” said Lukas.
Unlike the Olympic Games, athletes of the Meijer State Games do not need a lifetime of training to participate. Because the purpose of the State Games is to promote sportsmanship and healthy living through physical activity, participants of any age and ability are encouraged to sign up for their favorite sports.
For Lukas, the Meijer State Games provides a supportive community and the feeling of being a part of something huge. He says first time athletes may be surprised by how big the State Games have become in its seven years in operation, especially in perspective of the Opening Ceremonies that mirror the Olympic Games’ Opening Ceremonies.
“Athletes across Michigan as well as some bordering states have the opportunity to compete in something larger scale than ever before,” says Lukas. “It gives them the chance to play a sport that they love against competition they have never seen before.”
Spectators can also expect to see more of Lukas at the Meijer State Games in future competitions as he is considering adding cricket and pinball to his repertoire.
Regardless of your chosen sport, the true value of the State Games is the fun and the sense of community. Love of the game, making new friends, and a lifelong love of sports keeps Lukas and many others motivated to compete in local and statewide competitions.
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a twice-annual event sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Similar to the Olympics, each State Games features an Opening Ceremony and multiple competitions and tournaments during the Summer and Winter Games.
Spectators are welcome to cheer on the athletes. If you would like to attend the Meijer State Games of Michigan as an athlete, you can register on your sport’s page ahead of time or the day of the event, depending on the sport.
Photo credit: Robin Davies