Breakfast Club bowling league is about more than just bowling

Dec. 20, 2013 @ 09:45 AM

Clutching a 6-pound bowling ball in her right hand, 94-year-old Cornelia Davis approaches Lane 20 slowly — which is exactly how you would expect a 94-year-old woman to approach, well, just about anything.
What you don’t expect, though, is what happens next. The High Point woman’s right arm swings slightly behind her — again, very slowly — and then forward. As she releases the ball, it drops to the lane with a thud and lazily charts a path toward the pins.
“It’s amazing to see,” says Judy Carter, one of Davis’ teammates on the Alley Angels. “She has this ball that goes about 5 miles an hour, but when it finally gets there, it’ll knock those pins down. We call it her trick shot.”
She’s particularly adept at salvaging splits that make most bowlers cringe.
“She can have some splits that you would think the professionals would never get, but she gets them,” adds teammate Marsha Wright. “It’s slow, but the pins just ricochet off each other and fall down, and we’re just spellbound watching it happen. She inspires us — she inspires me every day.”
Sure enough, when Davis’ ball finally arrives, the pins begin dropping in slow motion, like felled trees.
Spare!
Cheers echo from behind her. With a sheepish smile, Davis turns and heads back to her seat, accepting high fives from her teammates.
“I have fun bowling and just being together with friends,” says Davis, who guesses she’s been bowling for about 30 years.
At 94, Davis may be the grande dame of the Breakfast Club — a Wednesday morning women’s league at the High Point Bowling Center — but she’s far from the only senior citizen in this league. Numerous other women are in their 60s, 70s and 80s — and they’re serious bowlers.
“We’re not a senior league — we’re a fully sanctioned league,” says Midge Pugh, a 71-year-old Thomasville woman who averages 165 and who rolled back-to-back strikes just prior to being interviewed. “We’ve never been classified as seniors.”
League members estimate the league has been around for more than half a century, and many of the women who bowl in the league today have been doing so for decades. The competition can be fierce — one recent Wednesday featured games of 269 and 256 — but in this league, it’s not just about the bowling.
“If it was all about the bowling, we wouldn’t be here,” Pugh jokes. “It’s about fellowship, too. We’ve all kind of become sisters — we’re like family.”
And some of them literally are family. The eight-team league features two mothers who have a pair of daughters in the league — 85-year-old Ruby Surrett and her daughters, Marsha Wright and Judy Carter; and Phyllis Robbins and her two daughters, Lori Simpson and April Jones.
League president Marianne Kelsey says the bowling is fun — and good exercise, too — but fellowship is what keeps the league going.
“We have a good time,” the 72-year-old High Point woman says. “We’re mostly senior citizens, although a few are younger. I’ve known Midge (Pugh) for 30-some years. We’ve all bowled together for so long, and then some of us Red Hat together, too.”
Team names such as the Odd Balls, the Pin Pals and the Tootsie Rollers reflect the league’s emphasis on fun. They even have covered-dish luncheons at the bowling alley to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Cornelia Davis, the league’s 94-year-old bowler, rarely misses a Wednesday. Her son drives her to the bowling alley, then returns later to pick her up.
“It’s just fun,” Davis says. “We all have a good time together.”

jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579