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Rolling strikes in the game of life

February 16, 2012
By MIKE HUGHES - Times Leader Staff Writer , Times Leader

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Bowling is a lifetime sport enjoyed by many, both young and old.

You're never too old or too young to enjoy the benefits of playing.

Wilma Steffl is such a tenpin enthusiast.

Article Photos

WILMA?STEFFL takes a break in the action during her league game as a member of the Haught Trucking team Tuesday at St. Clair Lanes in St. Clairsville.

Nearly 91 years of age, the Mt. Pleasant resident makes a weekly Tuesday night trip to St. Clair Lanes to compete with her Haught Trucking teammates in the Bordas & Bordas Bowling League.

Her example is one that should serve as a glowing example to all. And it's not that she's 90 years old and bowling that's important. Steffl isn't just alive. She's living. And that's the whole point.

Steffl has been a regular bowler for the last 36 years. For all but three of those, she's had to find through continuously worsening eyesight.

She suffers from macular degeneration, a condition that eventually leads to blindness. Steffl was diagnosed in 1979 and has learned to live with her condition ever since.

Again, the key word is live.

She's a mother of four, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of seven. She lost her husband Walter when he passed away in 2000. While devastating, even that hasn't stopped her.

Cooking and baking is still part of her daily routine. He specialties are pies and bread.

She's a member of St. Adelbert's Catholic Church. While she no longer sings in the choir, music is still a part of her life as she plays the accordion by ear.

Members of the Bordas & Bordas league have come to enjoy and look forward to Steffl's renditions on the accordion during league awards banquets.

She walks. She swims. And yes, Steffl also bowls.

She requires a little help to get there. Team captain Cookie Bell is usually the one helping her get ready, letting her know where her ball is at.

But it's Steffl, utilizing her remaining four senses and decades of muscle memorization to walk calmly up to the line and let fly her ball.

Should she need to pick up a spare, her teammates let her know which pins were left hanging. Steffl then makes a mental picture and adjusts her second throw's trajectory accordingly.

She's keeping busy, not letting her age, her condition or anything else stop her.

"I love the challenge," Steffl said of why she still enjoys bowling.

Steffl's highest single-game average was 134 which is pretty good considering what she's attempting to overcome compared to your average bowler.

So while she may leave a pin hanging hear or there, it's safe to say, in the game of life, Steffl has rolled her fair share of turkeys.

Hughes may be reached online at



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