Centre County Senior Games kick off in the alleys

Joyce Tedrow, 72, of Zion, reacts to bowling a strike during the Centre County Senior Games on Tuesday at Bellefonte Lanes. The games continue with various events until June 25.
Joyce Tedrow, 72, of Zion, reacts to bowling a strike during the Centre County Senior Games on Tuesday at Bellefonte Lanes. The games continue with various events until June 25. CDT photo

Joyce Tedrow clapped her hands and whooped in glee — all for a spare.

“You ought to see me when I get a strike,” she said Tuesday at the 26th annual Centre County Senior Games.

And boom: She delivered in her next frame.

Tedrow, 72, let fly, her spinning ball curving from her fingers to an explosion of pins. True to her word, she jumped for joy, unleashed a flurry of clapping and even threw in a little jig.

“That’s awesome,” the Zion resident said, flushed and grinning from her first strike of the day.

She fit right in with the jovial atmosphere at Bellefonte Lanes during the bowling team competition, the start of the games. Laughter and shouts mixed with the drone of rolling balls and the crack of their targets.

“I think it’s one of the most fun events for the seniors for the summer,” Carol Clitherow, staff assistant for the Centre Region Senior Center, said while signing in participants and selling teal Senior Games T-shirts.

About 160 participants registered by Tuesday for the games, which run until June 25 at several locations around the county.

People can register for upcoming events through the Centre Region Senior Center on Fraser Street in State College, or online at the Centre Region Parks and Recreation website.

Volunteers from CRPR, the county Office of Aging and Penn State staff the events, which include table tennis, bocce, golf, water volleyball, a 1-mile competitive outdoor walk, a football throw and a basketball hotshot. Bowling is also scheduled for June 16 at Northland Bowl in State College.

Shirley Shifter, 77, of Karthaus, has bowled for 45 years, but the Senior Games enhance her hobby.

“It’s just a lot of fun with people your age,” she said.

She’s only bowling during the games, unlike her friend. Nancy Kurzinger, 71, of State College, plans to do the mile-long walk, but on Tuesday, she focused on staying out of the gutters.

“I don’t bowl that well, but it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s all in fun.”

Charles Anderson, on the other hand, has been taking the sport seriously since 1964.

At 95, Anderson, of Benner Township, was the oldest bowler present. He wore a World War II veteran cap, earning the right from serving in the Army infantry in North Africa and Italy, including Anzio, before fighting his way across southern France and Germany.

“My knee gives out here and there,” he said. “My bowling has gone way down.”

He could have fooled everyone when he salvaged a spare after rolling a gutter ball.

“Attaboy, Charlie,” Dale Maurer, 80, of Unionville, called out.

A dedicated bowler with four Senior Games under his belt, Maurer said he finished, to his surprise, with the event’s high score in his first year.

But winning isn’t the point, he said.

“It’s the fellowship,” he said. “There’s no big trophy or anything.”

Judy Waite, 72, of Marion Township, also enjoys the camaraderie.

“There’s nothing happier than a bowling alley,” she said. “A senior bowling alley is usually full of happiness.”

Tedrow first joined the party three years ago after friends persuaded her to register. Since then, her game has improved.

“I like watching these guys,” she said. “I learn a lot. I just watch them, try to absorb and learn, and listen to their stories.”

Waite plays the bass in local bluegrass jams, but enjoys the Senior Games bowling just as much.

“Everyone’s rooting for everyone else,” she said. “It’s not super-competitive. We’re here to have fun, and we do.”

She heeded her own advice on a day when luck wasn’t favoring her.

“It’s bad,” Waite said. “But a bad day of bowling is better than no bowling at all.”