Every Wednesday night, seniors in Granite City, Missouri, gather at the local bowling alley to throw a few games. But it is Fletcher who frequently steals the show.
Fletcher, the oldest member of the league standing 100 years young, wows his peers with his still strong bowling skills. Even with his old age and declining mobility, the senior averages a 106, a solid score for anyone in the senior league.
The shocking fact for most witnesses is that Fletcher is legally blind. So how does he do it?
Fletcher collects his ball and throws it down the lane without any assistance. He does, however, rely on his playing partners to let him know what pins remain and where they are located. With this knowledge, Fletcher, when he's not picking up the occasional strike, manages to convert a few spares during his games. Unlike other sports, the static conditions of a bowling alley allow Fletcher to find a groove and stay with it to produce quality results.
Outside of his skills, it is Fletcher's spirit that inspires the other bowlers. In the video below, one man says, "He's our inspiration. We come to watch him more than anything."
At one point in the video, Fletcher delivers a strike and tells the camera, "That one felt alright."
Surprisingly, Fletcher isn't the first blind bowler to surprise people with his ability. In 2008, Dale Davis, a 78-year-old blind Iowa man, threw 12 consecutive strikes for a perfect 300 game. At the time, Davis, who lost his sight to macular degeneration, bowled six games per week and posted a 178 average.
According to a 2010 AOL News story, there have been 11 legally blind players to bowl a 300 game.
With Fletcher showing no signs of giving up the sport, perhaps the Missouri man will become No. 12.
While some seniors have turned to Nintendo Wii for their bowling fix, there are steps that can be taken so that real bowling remains a viable option for those in their later years. It is suggested that seniors find a bowling ball that is not too heavy, but also holds enough weight to produce action on the pins. Additionally, some seniors have an extra finger hole placed in their bowling ball to provide more grip and control. Wrist, knee or back support braces may also help a senior bowler remain injury free.
And, like Fletcher, finding a senior league at your local alley keeps the sport fun and makes it a social event.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Video Source: YouTube (wadesmith64)