Competitive Strikers have a virtual ball

The Surf City Strikers are a force among Orange County bowling teams.

The collective of 15 regulars from the Rodgers Seniors Center has claimed 20 trophies, all of them for first place.

But the Strikers don't practice their "sport" on traditional lanes. They're tops in Wii bowling. That's right, the video game bundled with nearly every Nintendo Wii gaming console sold in America.

The Strikers have traveled by bus from their Huntington Beach home "alley" to compete at senior centers around the country in the eight years since Rodgers hooked up its gaming systems.

And they're not just playing fellow old-timers anymore. On a recent Friday afternoon, the Strikers hosted their first intergenerational match against Cub Scout Pack 435 from Hawes Elementary School, in Huntington Beach.

"They had a project where they had to fulfill a badge to talk with older adults and see what life was like during their time and generation," Rodgers recreation supervisor Chris Slama said. "Coincidentally, they had a lot of members that enjoy playing Wii bowling, and that's when we said, 'Hey, we have a Wii bowling team.' It was the perfect opportunity for an intergenerational event."

The showdown took place in a center recreation room equipped with four TVs and gaming consoles. Once two seniors and two cub Scouts were assigned to each television, the players grabbed their controllers and got the virtual balls rolling.

Six-year-olds Ethan Carter and Vinny Sanfilippo went head-to-head against John Ferraiolo, 85, and Bob "Wii Bob" Schrimp, 74.

The boys asked Schrimp how he got his nickname, and he explained that it stems from his throwing a lot of strikes. About 15 minutes into the match, the senior backed up his statement, tossing six strikes in a row.

"I have 5,600 perfect games," he said, "and 750 of those were with my left and right hand."

Ferraiolo, who averages about 230 out of a possible 300 on the virtual lanes, said he saw his teammate bowl seven perfect games in a row one afternoon.

After throwing another strike, Schrimp pulled out his smartphone and scrolled through his pictures of the thousands of perfect games he's played over five years.

"It's all about same spot, same swing and lob the ball," he said. "That pretty much sets it."

The onslaught of strikes kept coming, and soon the youngsters gave up. The Strikers finished with Ferraiolo scoring 179. Ethan scored 175, and Vinny 160.

"Wii Bob" stayed true to his nickname and tallied another perfect game. As per tradition, he quickly rushed to the TV and snapped a picture of his latest achievement.

Ethan isn't a stranger to Wii bowling. He has five perfect games to his record, but that afternoon just wasn't his day.

"I drank Gatorade before we got here," he said about his efforts to bolster his performance.

Vinny was the unfortunate Cub Scout to fall to Schrimp's strikes.

"I thought it was gonna be pretty easy, but it turned out hard," Vinny said. "It turned out hard."

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