Age is no barrier

by Gianmarc Manzione 0

Emma Hendrickson of Morris Plains, N.J., hit the tournament lanes at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center and added on to her own record as the oldest participant in USBC Women's Championships history.

The 101-year-old Hendrickson received several gifts on behalf of the city of El Paso to commemorate her accomplishment and welcome her to “Sun City” for her 51st consecutive tournament appearance.

Hendrickson rolled games of 78, 76 and 91 for a 245 scratch total in the team event.

"Well, it's not too bad considering my age and a couple of other factors," said Hendrickson, who entered with a 103 average and chose not to compete in doubles and singles this year. "I have a physical impairment, and the ball always goes to the left. Sometimes it's okay. I had a slight stroke, but as long as I can still bowl, it's okay."

The energetic right-hander made her 50th Women's Championships appearance at the 2009 event in Reno, Nev., and became the oldest bowler in tournament history, breaking her tie with Ethel Brunnick of Santa Monica, Calif., who competed at the age of 99 in 1987.

That performance helped Hendrickson reach celebrity status as the story of her accomplishment quickly made its way around the country and world. She even bowled an exhibition match with TV personality Regis Philbin, with the results being shown on “Live! With Regis and Kelly.”

Throughout her many years of involvement with bowling, Hendrickson has found her work with youth bowling to be most satisfying. She helped organize the youth program in Morris County, N.J.

"My goal was to get the kids out into the community so that they could earn money to bowl," Hendrickson said. "The youth division is my glory because I started it in Morris County, and we have a beautiful program for them. I still have my hand in it. I just love it."

Hendrickson said she already has signed up for the 2011 Women's Championships, which will be held in Syracuse, N.Y.

"It's about a seven-hour drive from Morris Plains,” she noted. “I hope I can make it; I really do."

BJI Subscribe Now