After each frame of their bowling mixed doubles finals round, siblings Elsie Armijo and Carlos Rodriguez returned to a table behind the lane to check in with a small crowd of family members looking on.
This home base included Elsie’s daughter, Sonia, and two grandchildren, and Carlos’ wife, Margaret, all sporting matching shirts displaying the New Mexican flag.
Bowling is a strong tradition among the women in Elsie’s family – she learned to bowl from her mother in her late teens, and Sonia followed suit at a similar age. Soon, Sonia’s daughter will join her mom and grandmother, bringing three generations together over bowling.
“My 25-year-old is starting to bowl with me now,” shares Sonia. “Next season we’ll have a women’s team with all three of us on it.”
These National Senior Games were Elsie and Carlos’ first competing as a mixed doubles pair in the 75-79 age category, but a total of five family members competed in various sports when the National Senior Games were held in their home state of New Mexico in 2019.
Carlos, who admits his sister is a better bowler than him, plays as many sports as he can at his local and state senior games. His record for one event? Twenty-two sports with medals in 16. While he’s limited to two medal sports at the National Senior Games, Carlos earned five ribbons in this year’s swimming competition.
Sonia turns 50 soon and is ready to compete with her mom, a two-time bowling medal winner, at the 2023 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “If you’ve ever bowled with my mom, she’s a blast,” says Sonia. “My mom is my buddy.”
The family has more to look forward to after these Senior Games with a trip to Disney World next on the itinerary.
Soaking Up the Moments
Christine McCandless sits in Sawgrass Lanes behind a computer, tracking scores from her father’s 85-89 mixed doubles bowling roll-off in a carefully color-coded spreadsheet.
It’s a practice she started on her first trip to the National Senior Games with her dad, Richard McCandless, in 2015 to help pass the time.
Now at her third event, Christine has a unique perspective as a supporter. “The camaraderie that I see in the bowling community is unlike anything I’ve experienced…They just cheer each other on all the time…I love that,” shares Christine. “After traveling a few times now we’ve gotten to meet some nice people, and we look forward to seeing them.”
The two share a fun, easy-going demeanor and love to tell the story of their drive home from the 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Christine was pulled over for speeding and shared a glowing report with the officer detailing how Richard had just won a silver medal at the National Senior Games. Impressed, he let them off with a warning.
“The time with my dad – I’m soaking it all up while I can,” Christine adds. “It allows him to do his thing and it makes him happy.”