Bowling brings out the good sport in residents

In the world of bowling, three consecutive strikes is called a “turkey.”

In the world of Wii bowling tournaments at the Cumberland Crossings senior living community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, such an accomplishment earns the “turkey hat.”

“Not everyone thinks it’s an honor to wear the hat, but they’re all good sports,” says Toni Cannon, the senior living community’s fitness coordinator.

For the past 10 years, Toni has coordinated a Wii bowling tournament for residents. Two of Cumberland Crossings’ home video-game systems were donated and as residents experimented with various games, bowling became the favorite.

“I’ve tried to do the golf, but no one wants to, not even the golfers. The baseball game is hard and tennis is difficult. I think they like the bowling because it is a simple game, easy to learn and everyone understands it,” Toni says.

“And playing it gives the feel of actual bowling. It requires some hand-eye coordination to use the controller and release the ball at the right time, but even people who have never bowled before can do it.”

The Wednesday-afternoon tournaments feature four-bowler teams. The tournaments run for 15 weeks, the fitness coordinator explains, followed by a party and a break for a few weeks. The number of teams has varied over the years—eight at one time, five now. Of course, any resident can participate.

“Every team bowls against the others,” she says. “I take the total scores of each game and the highest scoring team wins the tournament. Everyone supports their teammates as well as the opposing teams.”

Current teams include residents from independent living, personal care and skilled. Some residents bowl from their wheelchairs.

“They are as enthusiastic as everyone else,” Toni says. “The cheering can get pretty loud. I think they all enjoy the challenge, the competition. It boosts their self-esteem and helps everyone socialize a little more. It’s a good way to meet other residents.”

Now, about that turkey hat …?

“It’s a roasted turkey like you’d have at Thanksgiving,” Toni Cannon says. “If they bowl three strikes in a row, they put on the hat and get their picture in the ‘Wii Turkeys in the Oven’ frame.”

As she said, everyone is a good sport!

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