Poor vision can't stop 95-year-old bowler Mini Tvaska from setting records

10:19 AM, Apr 30, 2013   |    comments
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Poor vision can't stop 95-year-old Mini Tvaska, an avid bowler from Seminole, from setting records.



Seminole, Florida -- For Mini Tvaska, there's nothing quite like the sound of bowling pins falling down.

"I always say it's the joy of life," she said during a Monday morning senior league tournament in Seminole. "I don't get very many strikes but I do get one once in a while."

Cheers and applause erupt after every one of her shots. At 95 years old, she's inspiring the younger generation.

"Sometimes when she gets a strike, she literally comes off the lane and jumps in the air," said 65-year-old Kati Hendricks, a teammate of Tvaska's for years. "I can't even do that."

Tvaska makes it look easy and she's been throwing strikes for years. This coming May 21, she'll extend her record for the most consecutive years participating in the United States Bowling Congress championship tournament. This year marks her 67th year.

The most remarkable part of Tvaska's accomplishment is that she can't see the pins she's knocking down. At least, not as well as she used to. Macular degeneration started blurring her vision a decade ago.

"I see the whole white spot there and I just know how to bowl from throwing the ball," she says. "I look down at the floor to walk straight and then I just lift my eyes and I kind of know where to throw."

"She throws the ball down there and then you ask her what pins are left up," said Dawn Reed, who played with Tvaska on Monday. "She can't see then and you tell her which numbers and she knocks them down."

It's clear that she loves the game. She's a local celebrity in her bowling league. She even signs autographs. It's easy to admire a woman who embodies what sports are all about.

"Just when you think she's not going to keep going, she keeps going," said Hendricks. "I call her the energizer bunny."

Despite the eye-sight problems, Tvaska continues to play the game she took to as a teenager. Her best score is 232. 

Now, she averages around 100 per game, but says it's more about the fun now than the scores.

"I'm not that upset about losing my vision," she said. "When I bowl good, I feel happy."

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