continued “In terms of applications, we are ahead of where we were last year at this time,” said Mills.
In the future, Rechnitzer said the goal is to offer more than 40 types of sports. Already, he and Mills are looking to add wrestling, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, volleyball and bowling in the next two years.
“Other statewide games across the country have as many as 48 different sports,” said Rechnitzer. “Our goal is to get to that point over the next five years.”
Liberty Games competitors will represent the same six regions that New York was divided into by the Empire State Games – Adirondack, Central, Western, Hudson Valley, Long Island and New York City. There will also be an opening festival Thursday, July 18, at Schenectady High School featuring a barbecue and a performance by Chelsea Cavanaugh.
“It’s an opportunity for all of the athletes and their families to get together and share stories,” said Mills.
Athletes do have to pay their way to compete at the Liberty Games, which is a difference from the state-funded Empire State Games. But Rechnitzer said families are willing to make that commitment.
“There is an enormous amount of money parents spend on their kids’ sports anyway,” said Rechnitzer. “They think nothing of dropping several hundred dollars for a weekend tournament.”
Schenectady High School will host several Liberty Games events including basketball, pickleball and track and field. Mekeel Christian Academy in Scotia is another site, as is Tri City BMX in Rotterdam, River Road Park in Niskayuna and Westland Hills in Albany.
As more sports are added, Mills and Rechnitzer said they are hoping to expand to more venues around the area.
“The goal is to have the games contested in the Capital-Saratoga region every year,” said Mills.
For information, visit the Liberty Games website at essportscouncil.org.