Tag Archive | "Wii bowling"

[VIDEO] Bronx seniors go Wii

[VIDEO] Bronx seniors go Wii

By Ethan Frogget and Clara Martinez

Every Friday, a group of seniors gets together in the Bronx Library Center to bowl with the Nintendo Wii. The program is part of a citywide initiative launched by the New York Public Library system to bring new technologies to surrounding communities. Wii gaming is available in five other Bronx libraries and twelve centers in Manhattan and Staten Island.

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For Two Old Friends, Wii Isn’t Child’s Play

Tyrone Owens plays Wii bowling at the Arturo Schomburg Senior Center on Franklin Ave. in Morrisania. Photo by Alec Johnson

James Haggins, 61, plays Wii bowling at the Arturo Schomburg Senior Center on Franklin Avenue in Morrisania as Carlos Isa looks on. (Alec Johnson/ The Bronx Ink)

By Alec Johnson

They grew up with stickball in the streets. As classmates at P.S. 63 and Morris High School, they played basketball. Now two old buddies in Morrisania are continuing their decades-long competition  on Monday afternoons throwing strikes and spares in the recreation room of the Arturo Schomburg Senior Center, where they join a group of senior citizens to play Nintendo Wii.

“We’re regulars, said Tyrone Owens, 63, about himself and his lifelong friend, James Haggins, 61. “We go back 60 years in the same neighborhood.”

Owens and Haggins join about a half dozen others who compete in a videogame more common on a teenager’s Christmas list. The Wii is actually owned by the Morrisania Public Library, and librarian Ilham Al-Basri

James Haggins and Tyrone Owens take a break from Wii Bowling at the Arturo Schomburg Senior Center where they play every Monday afternoon.

James Haggins and Tyrone Owens take a break from Wii Bowling at the Arturo Schomburg Senior Center where they play every Monday afternoon. (Alec Johnson/ The Bronx Ink)

brings it to the center each week as part of the library’s outreach program.

“The senior citizens like the Wii,” said  Al-Basri, who got the idea for using  Wii Sports last year at the New York Public Library health fair.

Dedicated players aren’t the only asset in Morrisania. “We’re lucky the center has this big TV,” said Al-Basri, pointing to a screen wider than a bowling lane. “Wii Sports are better played on a bigger screen.”

The room doesn’t look much like a bowling alley, with its hanging plants and blue-and-white checkered tablecloths. But there’s lots of room — it’s about 20 by 30 feet — and the players have the space they need to score high. On a recent Monday,  Owens was hot, throwing strike after strike and finishing with a winning score of 165. Haggins seems a little rusty; he didn’t break 100. (As in regular bowling, a score of 300 is a perfect game.)

Owens credited his history of athletic prowess. As a child, he rode a unicycle around Morrisania, and, when he was 12, he taught his brother Albert how to ride. Albert took the skill beyond the neighborhood to perform with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Although it has been decades since anyone has seen Owens ride, he insists he could still do it if he wanted to.

Al-Basri teased Haggins about his loss. “You missed last Monday,” he said. “It shows when you miss a Monday. Athletes need to practice every day.”

Al-Basri said the seniors chose Wii bowling over Wii tennis because it is more realistic. “Bowling is more energizing and it is more true to the real world,” said Al-Basri, who, as a tennis player, agrees that Wii tennis isn’t up to snuff.

In the nine months since the seniors started playing Wii, they have gained nicknames from the senior center’s janitor, Eric Dance, who christened Owens  “Ty Boogey” and calls Haggins “Moose” to encourage them. “Those guys are keeping it strong,” he said.

“It’s show time, Ty Boogey,” Dance hollered as Owens set up for a frame. He leapt forward three steps, then swung his right arm and lifted his right leg as if he were hurling a 12-pound bowling ball at real pins in the local bowling ally. The digital ball rocketed down the lane and after all nine pins fell, the sound of a perfect strike resonated from the television. With a wide grin on his face, Owens returned to his seat and waited his next turn.

In the meantime, a determined Haggins stepped up, and bowled in an awkwardly quick shuffle. It was a little off the mark, but not enough so he couldn’t finish strong with a second shot. You would think Haggins and Owens were ninepin regulars, but neither has spent much time bowling for real.

“He’s back in the game with a spare,” hollered Dance, followed by a brief round of applause. That, however was the end of his rebound.

“This is good exercise and good motivation for the seniors,” said the Rev. Idus Nunn, director of the senior center. “I’m trying to get another day in the week or maybe a grant so we can get our own Wii.”

As  the top scorer of the day, Owens won a green fleece jacket donated to the senior center for the winner of the week’s tournament.

Looking down at his plate of mashed potatoes and a piece of chicken fried steak, Owens said, “This is a victory meal for me.”  It brought back memories. Growing up,  Owens and Haggins spent frequented each others’ houses. “My mama was the neighborhood cook,” said Haggins.

Despite the game’s outcome, Haggins and Owens both agreed that Wii bowling is much more fun than bingo. And although they see each other every day, they look forward to playing every week to keep their competition going for the rest of their lives.

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