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In their 90s, Alle-Kiski Valley trio keeps bowling for fun, friendship

| Monday, March 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Bowler Martha Gould, 93, of New Kensington rolls a frame at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Bowler Denny Matsik, 96, of Harrison launches his bowling ball at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Bowler Bob Frank, 92, of New Kensington makes his approach at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

Each week, three Alle-Kiski Valley seniors prove that age is only a number.

Bob Frank, 92, Denny Matsik, 96, and Martha Gould, 93, are the oldest members of the Wildlife Lanes Senior Bowling League at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell.

Each of the 90-somethings has been bowling for decades, and they see no reason to stop now.

“I've been bowling since 1936,” said Matsik, a proud resident of the Ducktown section of Harrison, as he waited for the league to begin play. “I'm going to do it as long as I can lift the ball.”

Frank said he's been bowling since he was 6 years old.

“We have our league every Thursday and some of us come here to practice on Tuesdays,” Frank, of New Kensington, said. “It's great exercise, and you get the camaraderie out of it, too.”

Gould, who lives in New Kensington, said she started when her youngest daughter was in sixth grade.

“I've never bowled anywhere but here,” she said of Wildlife Lanes. “I still drive my van here every week because I want the exercise and all the people are nice.”

All three bowlers remember their all-time best game, Frank, 220; Matsik, 255; and Gould, 270. All three agree they might not reach those numbers again, but bowling is still more than fun.

“The days of me bowling a 200 game are gone,” Gould said with a smile.

The Wildlife Lanes Senior Bowling League bowls every Thursday from September to April from 1 to 3 p.m. Anyone over the age of 50 can join and it's only $8 a week to bowl three games, according to league president Helen Sakal.

“You get your exercise and friendship,” said Sakal, 86, who has been league's president for more than 20 years. “Everybody enjoys coming.”

Sakal said it's not unusual for the league to have members in their 90s.

“We had someone that was over 100,” she said.

League member Ernie Fiorina, 84, of Arnold said the three 90-something bowlers give him hope he can still be bowling in 10 years.

“It makes you think, ‘Maybe I have the opportunity to make it that far, too,'” he said. “I really love it.

“We have a Christmas party every year and a spring banquet,” he added. “It's a lot of fun.”

Wildlife Lanes employee Janet Makowski said she marvels at what Gould, Frank, Matsik and the rest of the group are still able to do.

“It's really wonderful, and they're all wonderful,” she said. “It keeps them going, and it gives me hope that I can be doing that at their age.”

Makowski said she's learned a lot from the senior bowlers.

“Martha (Gould) told me one day she couldn't find her house keys, so she turned a glass over — and then she found them,” Makowski said. “She told me it's an old wives tale and I should try it some day.

“So one day my son couldn't find one of his school books,” she continued. “So we turned a glass over.

“And lo and behold! We found the book.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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