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Tuesday Seniors bowlers in a league of there own

You don't need a high bowling average to be a member of the Tuesday Seniors, a league for keglers ages 50-plus of all skills levels, including beginners.

Every Tuesday afternoon the group gets together at the Pahrump Nugget Bowling Center to have a good time, socialize and knock down a few pins.

It is one of several senior daytime leagues, totaling over 500 bowlers, who roll in Monday through Friday at the bowling center.

Ralph Johnson is a board member of the Southern Nevada USBC Association, chartered by the United States Bowling Congress, and serves as house representative for Pahrump.

"We're there to have fun," Johnson said. "It's more of a social-type thing; anyways, I mean it's not competitive. So, we're there to meet new people, joke, laugh, have a good time and get some exercise while we're doing it, basically."

Johnson said one of their league members is a woman who will be 90 in August. She's a good bowler, Johnson added.

"She's still bowling and she beats a lot of us, still," Johnson laughed.

He has been bowling for over 50 years, since he was a kid growing up in Detroit when he joined a league for paperboys.

Johnson, and wife Judie, like many of the seniors, bowl in more than one league.

"It gets us out of the house, you know, three days a week, it gets us out of the house, really," Johnson said.

The Tuesday Seniors League has been around for many years, starting at the Double B bowling alley in the former Mountain View Casino. When that facility was ravaged by fire in 2003, the bowlers drove to Las Vegas to enjoy their sport at the Gold Coast Casino.

California native Jan Sawyer is league secretary/treasurer and currently bowls in four leagues. She had bowled in high school, but didn't get back into it until after she got married.

"It's fun and the people are nice and we just have a good time, that's why," Sawyer said about the league.

She said it's more of a "friendly league."

"We've got some really good bowlers and then we've got some mediocre bowlers, but it's all handicap, you know, so that's what makes it even," Sawyer said.

A handicapped league is one that helps bowlers of all skill levels compete fairly by adding points to their scores based on a percentage of a set average.

"Everybody wants to win, you know, everybody wants to win; yeah it's human nature," Sawyer said. "But if you lose, you go on to the next day, you know, you wanna bowl the best you can. And when you get to be seniors, you can only bowl so good."

Sawyer's husband, Gordon, said he enjoys the "camaraderie" with everybody who bowls.

"I started setting pins when I was 12 years old and I've been bowling ever since," Gordon Sawyer said. "And I had to wait til I was 80 years old before I got my first 300 game."

That was last year and then he got another one a few months back.

Donna Whitaker is president of both the Tuesday Seniors and Thursday Seniors leagues. She and husband George, bowl on the same team and are in more than one league like other couples, but bowlers don't need to have a "significant other" to participate.

George Whitaker started bowling while in the military. He said he likes to go out and bowl to "get away from watching TV all day long."

"Well, it's a good activity like he (George) said, it gets you off the couch from in front of the TV and the exercise is good for you," Donna Whitaker said. "We've made a lot of friends here, a great many friends here. Unfortunately, over the years we've lost a lot of them too, you know due to death."

Ed Moy is league vice president and joined the group after he moved from Illinois to Pahrump about nine years ago.

"I come out here to bowl because I really enjoy the people here," Moy said. "You meet some of the nicest people in the bowling alley, when you just sit down, you come in, you chat with them, you know, you find out where they're from."

Donna Whitaker, like many of the bowlers, owns more than one ball since lane conditions change.

"Me, I use the same ball all year-round," Moy said. "You know, I'm not exactly the greatest bowler here. I don't come out to impress anybody. And I always tell everybody that I bowl with that is on my team. I say look, so you miss a spare, next frame, next frame, next frame. Don't be worrying about what happened now, worry about the next frame."

Betty LaComb has been a long-time bowler in Pahrump and used to bowl at the Double B.

"I bowl because I love it," LaComb said.

She been bowling since the late '50s when her husband was in the Air Force. LaComb has been in multiple leagues and gone on to many state tournaments and national events.

She admits to not being as good a bowler as in the past.

"Age catches up with you," LaComb laughed. "And it's not quite as easy anymore when you become older and have arthritis and all that good stuff."

LaComb said she is probably the oldest woman bowler from the original league who used to bowl at the Double B, adding that she sees some men at the Nugget who also bowled at the old location.

When the Pahrump Nugget Bowling Center opened up in 2005 with the 24-lane alley, bowlers were excited.

"People that come from out of town to bowl here always enjoy themselves and they always say what a wonderful bowling alley we have because it's clean, and everybody's very friendly and everything, yes," LaComb said.

The current season will be ending in mid-April, but the summer leagues will be forming then. Stop by the Pahrump Nugget Bowling Center for a schedule and information on the upcoming season.

"This is one of the best places in town to have fun and everything." LaComb said.

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