Elsie Fuhriman is getting accustomed to a brand-new bowling ball. It's hot pink with white swirls, and it has a slightly different feel from the ball she was using. She appreciates the ball, which was a gift from her children, but hot pink is not the color she would have chosen -- it's eye-catching and she really doesn't like to draw attention to herself.
The Ogden woman did receive a little bit of attention the first day she used ball, but not because of the bright color. It was because she'd just turned 94 years old.
"I hope I'm still bowling at 94," said fellow bowler Tammie Brandley of Harrisville. "She still has all the spunk of a 50-year-old."
Fuhriman bowls in two leagues, one for women and another for seniors. She also serves as a substitute for another league, so she hits the lanes two or three times a week.
"She just keeps going, like the Energizer Bunny," said Fuhriman's daughter, Dana Austin of Clinton.
Fuhriman has been bowling so long that she doesn't remember why she started. But she knows it was more than 50 years ago that she joined Ogden's Ben Lomond Belles bowling league.
Her five children also learned to bowl, and a few of them were even on a league together.
"We bowled for quite a few years and then decided not to continue," said Austin. "But mother has."
Fuhriman says she's not a very good bowler anymore, but friends disagree.
"She picks up splits," said Verna Mangum of Ogden.
And Brandley adds: "She's still competitive, and I think that's great. She out-bowls some of us who are younger."
Fuhriman's average is 123, and she uses a 10-pound ball.
"I used to have a 12-pound ball, then I hurt my back," she said, explaining that she suffered a hairline fracture when she fell while moving a garbage can.
She was out of commission for about six weeks, but it didn't end her league play.
"It happened in the summertime when you don't bowl," she said.
When leagues resumed in the fall, she was back at Ben Lomond Lanes.
Rolling a ball toward pins keeps Fuhriman, and other seniors, out of a rocking chair.
"It's better to be rollin' than rockin,' " said Fuhriman's teammate, Lynnette Fritz of North Ogden.
Austin says her mother is still in very good health. Until the last year or so, she wasn't on medication, and she still does a lot to maintain her yard and small orchard.
Fuhriman believes her health is mostly due to heredity.
"I had two brothers and a sister who lived to be in their nineties," she said, adding, "But it won't last -- that's what I always say."
Austin believes lifting a ball for three games, twice a week, is probably good strength training for her mother.
"I am surprised that somebody who's 94 is still bowling, but if she's got the stamina, I think it's a valuable experience," said Mark Bigler, chairman of Weber State University's department of social work and gerontology.
Matt Cannizzaro, public relations manager for the United States Bowling Congress in Arlington, Texas, says bowling is a lifetime sport.
"We don't have any official statistics on ages, but we do have older bowlers," he said. "We recently had an 89-year-old bowler bowl a 300 game -- that is the record."
The oldest league bowlers in USBC history were a 106-year-old man and three 103-year-old women. Emma Hendrickson, 102, from New Jersey, is still traveling around the country competing in the USBC women's championships.
Fuhriman says she bowls just to be out and around other people.
"One of the challenges of getting older is we become more isolated as our bodies slow down. We're not as mobile, and we don't get out as much," said Bigler. "It makes a lot of sense that she would find that social value in bowling. It's less about a perfect game, and more about being out with people -- with friends."
Jolayne Clayton, of Pleasant View, is on another team with the Ben Lomond Belles bowling league. After bowling, she and Fuhriman continue the fun by going to lunch together.
"She's just a neat lady. I just love her," said Clayton. "She's quite quiet, but yeah, she's got lots of friends. ... I think she's well-liked on the league because she's a very caring woman."
The Ben Lomond Belles is a handicap league, allowing bowlers of differing ages and skills to play and be competitive. Fritz says the team she and Fuhriman are on is a handicapped handicap team.
"I'm on oxygen," Fritz said, adding that another team member is also on oxygen and has a heart problem, and another was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. That makes Fuhriman "the healthiest of all of us."
Fritz says the 94-year-old doesn't get upset if a teammate gets a low score.
"She's just really a nice person, as far as whether you do good or do bad. She's not going to not be your friend because you had a bad day," said Fritz.
Fuhriman says she enjoys her teammates.
"We're all bowling together, and it's great," she said. "I want to bowl with them, and be with them."