Blair Garrett

Dedication is something that often takes a long time to cultivate.

For Thurmont native James “Jim” Wisotzkey, 95, bowling is something that has been an integral part of his life for a long, long time.

Wisotzkey’s roots in bowling run deep, as his passion for the sport began when he was just a teenager.

“I ran a bowling alley in Thurmont when I was 14,” Wisotzkey said. “It’s old and run down now with water damage, but that’s where it began.”

Wisotzkey has been an expert bowler for over half a century, but his passion for the game and a push from his doctor has kept the bowler throwing strikes for decades longer than your average senior leaguer.

“The doctor doesn’t want me to quit,” Wisotzkey said. “He says it’s the best I can do to keep me going.”

It isn’t just the longevity of Wisotzkey’s bowling career that has people singing his praises. As a Marine Veteran and a staple of the Frederick County bowling scene, Wisotzkey has built a bit of a legacy at Terrace Lanes in Frederick.

“I’ve been in this league for 30 years,” he said. “I started it back in 1990, and I’m the only one left of the originals.”

The league routinely packs the bowling alley every Tuesday, giving Frederick County seniors a physical outlet and a chance to get out and have some fun.  

Bowling competitively has kept the skills sharp for Wisotzkey, whose 2020 high score nearly breaks 200. While he may not throw the ball with the same power as he used to, the fundamental technique is as solid as ever for Wisotzkey, who continues to push the limits and wow his teammates and competitors.

Wisotzkey’s team, the Silent Bowlers, is comprised of four members, including Wisotzkey, John McBride, Mary Ann Anderson, and Jeff Dunefsky, who all recognize Wisotzkey’s efforts and dedication to the team and the league. The unit fully supports Wisotzkey and, like the rest of the league members, is astonished at his consistency and love for the game.

The future is bright for Wisotzkey, the Silent Bowlers, and the rest of Terrace Lanes Senior League, as Wisotzkey has no plans to slow down.

“I have a pacemaker, and they checked that about three months ago,” Wisotzkey said. “The lady turned to me and said, ‘I’ve got good news for you. Your battery is good for 12 more years.’”

Wisotzkey turns 96 on June 2, and while he certainly holds the title of the league’s eldest bowler, there’s one title he’s still chasing. “My all-time highest score was a 289,” Wisotzkey said. “I just missed out on the perfect game in the last frame.”

At the pace Wisotzkey is going, the perfect game is not out of the question. In addition to his regularly scheduled league games on Tuesdays, he also takes his talents to duckpin lanes each week to keep active.

With the senior league going strong, a cast of teammates behind him, and an iron will to keep knocking down pins, it’s clear Wisotzkey has a knack for defying expectations.

The Silent Bowlers prepare for its league game: (from left) James “Jim” Wisotzkey, John McBride, Mary Ann Anderson, and Jeff Dunefsky.

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