Wii senior bowling league keeps competitive juices flowing

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A few years ago Joe Riccobene thought his days of playing sports were over. Now one of the winners of the National Senior League Wii bowling competition continues to bowl, golf and play tennis—virtually, that is.

“You have to keep active,” said Riccobene, 74, the youngest member of the SAS Strikers from ACTS/St. Andrews Estates South in Boca Raton, FL.

The team narrowly beat the Riverside Place Silver from Charleroi, PA, on Tuesday by a score of 1,713 to 1,693. Each team won a game, but the Strikers ended up with more pins.

Of course, promoting physical activity, competition and social engagement was one of the main goals of the National Senior League, which held the championship and the tournament that led up to it. A total of 180 teams of seniors from more than 24 states were a part of the competition, which began on Oct. 19.

Dennis Berkholtz, founder of the league, is a proponent of healthy competition. He was a member of the U.S. handball team at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He also was a coach for the U.S. team at the 1976 games in Montreal. (See his video interview with McKnight's on the home page.) 

Riccobene could be a kind of role model for the league. He lives independently, drives a Corvette (his fifth) and does a lot of activities, even though he has a bad hip.

Until the championship, he bowled five to six hours a week. Besides the Wii games, he plays shuffleboard and ping-pong. He moved into the ACTS community in 2005.

Riccobene said he always has played sports, though not professionally. A former state tax auditor in California, he played football and baseball in high school. He played baseball informally when he got out of the military service, he says. He also enjoyed softball and bowling.

Of course, others on the team are no slouches either. Duane Webster was planning to celebrate his 88th birthday on Wednesday by skydiving. (When can I turn 88?)

Then there is Larry Maraldo of the Riverside Place Silver. He bowled two perfect games.

The players show that there are “lots of good, fun things to do during their retirement years,” said Colleen Wilson, public relations manager for the ACTS community. 

Riccobene agrees.

People should know that even though they “think they're through,” that's not necessarily the case, Riccobene believes.

“I think they can at least do something. I don't care what you do …The shuffleboard doesn't take a lot of physical strength … You have to keep active. As long as you can keep active, you're better off in the long run.”

Good advice from a champion.


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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.

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