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Sycamore seniors wage ‘Wii Bowling’ battle

SYCAMORE – An epic battle of “Wii Bowling” was waged Wednesday between the seniors of the Family Service Agency and Sycamore Park District personnel.

“It’s a little contest to see who is the best bowler,” said David Miller, executive director of the Family Service Agency.

The teams, which consisted of four members from each group, met in the clubhouse at the Sycamore Park District Golf Course. Spliced with the friendly ribbing and cheering from onlookers was silence as everyone watched the virtual ball roll across the television.

Interest in bowling took off after someone donated a Nintendo Wii console to one of the Family Service Agency’s senior centers, Miller said.

“We sat there going, ‘What are we going to do with this?’ ” Miller said. “But the seniors started to bowl, and it’s really caught on.”

Now, they have a bowling league that includes the five senior centers the agency runs. Miller said Wii Bowling has kept seniors active physically, mentally and socially, in addition to being a fun game to play.

“It keeps them going,” Miller said. “Our whole goal is to keep them independent as long as possible.”

Sandra Gammel, 64, was one of the bowlers representing the Family Service Agency at the friendly tournament. Unlike the others, Gammel is totally blind.

Gammel was a bowler before glaucoma took her sight in 1990. She said when she’s in front of the TV with a Wii motion controller in hand, she envisions the bowling lanes in her head.

When she’s done, the other members will tell her which pins – if any – are left standing.

“Some days, I have my days. Some days, I do better than others,” Gammel said. After scoring high on one frame, someone described Gammel’s bowling as “like clockwork.”

As the executive director of the park district, Daniel Gibble said he’s relatively new, and the tournament gave him a chance to meet the seniors who occupy the golf course’s clubhouse three days a week.

Like Miller, Gibble agreed that socialization is important not just for seniors, but people of all ages.

“I have three college-age girls now,” Miller said. “I think when growing up, it was important for them to have socialization opportunities. Just to learn how to get along together, learn how to be active, learn how to cooperate. ... For older adults, it’s an opportunity to get out of the house, to exercise, to move around, to do some sort of other activity.”

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