A group of West Orange seniors meets at Winter Garden Bowl every Tuesday for good times with good people.
WINTER GARDEN On Tuesday mornings, a group of senior citizens meets at Winter Garden Bowl for a cup of coffee and a few frames of bowling.
And even though it’s a United States Bowling Congress-sanctioned league, most of the bowlers in the league — Old Bowlers Never Die — are more interested in the social aspect of the game rather than the competitive one.
“It’s mainly a social interaction,” said Linda Sanabria. “When you’re retired, you’re either cooking, cleaning or babysitting, so this is what we need.”
Some weeks, group members even bring snacks to the bowling alley to share.
“It’s more than just bowling,” said Cecil West. “We bring snacks. It’s just getting together. The fellowship means more than the bowling.”
Many of the members have been bowling for decades, and it’s the love of the game that brings them back to the alley each week.
“It’s the anticipation of watching the ball go down the lane and wondering if it’s going to hit (the pins),” said Gary DeVol.
The game is 10% skill and 90% luck, according to Marsha Coffman.
“You can bowl great one game, and the next game, it’s like I’ve never bowled before,” she said. “It’s about the challenge.”
The casual atmosphere allows participants the opportunity to take the game at their own pace and style. Some bowl slow. Some bowl fast. Some throw straight, while others hook the ball.
And the sport is easily adaptable for those who may have medical impairments, such as a bad knee or hip.
“I got a new knee, and about a week after, I was in here bowling again,” DeVol said.
Old Bowlers Never Die is a mixed league, meaning both men and women can compete together, and bowlers range in age from their 50s to their 80s.
“We have a guy here who is 83,” Eddie Schedd said. “I hope I’m up and bowling at 83.”
In addition to the camaraderie, many of the members enjoy coming out each week to burn a few extra calories.
“It gives me good exercise, so it gives me a reason to come out,” Schedd said.
Some of the ladies in the league double down on the bowling fun and participate in the Happy Hookers league on Thursday mornings. It’s a league strictly for women, but the fun, casual atmosphere is the same.
“With these ladies, it’s a lot of fun,” said Mary Sybol. “I enjoy the camaraderie. It’s more of a social event for us.”
And after the fun of bowling is over, everyone drives to a nearby restaurant to meet up for lunch — something that is now a Thursday tradition with the group.
“Some of the best friends I have came through bowling,” Coffman said.