BRENDA RINCON/Coachella Unincorporated
COACHELLA – The four members of Team Coachella Unincorporated arrived at the Senior Center on a hot summer morning with smiles on their faces. Scrawled across the chalkboard in the large multipurpose room were the words: Hoy competencia de boliche.
Today, the youth journalists would play – and most certainly beat — the senior citizens at their own game: Wii Bowling.
How hard could it be, they had asked each other, when they had accepted the friendly invitation weeks earlier from the center’s coordinator, Maria Arcos. After all, this is a motion sensor video game played on the Wii console. The players use a remote control to guide the actions of their on-screen bowler.
Surely the young people, who are always attached to an electronic device, would have the advantage over the old folks that hang out at the Senior Center.
But when the students arrived, they found themselves face to face with serious competitors. Team Coachella Seniors was serious and focused, with a wall full of plaques and trophies to prove their Wii bowling prowess. They practiced everyday in preparation for an upcoming tournament against other senior centers. Playing Team Coachella Unincorporated (CU) was simply preparation for real competition.
The four seniors — Jose Valadez, Rafael Limon, Baudelio Sanchez, and Luis Mancilla – wore matching T-shirts and game faces. They meant business.
The look on the students’ faces said, “We should’ve worn uniforms!”
The students suddenly felt ill-prepared. They hadn’t practiced, as they had planned, and now they were facing seasoned Wii athletes.
Team CU took their turn first. Ivan Delgado, Fatima Ramirez, Karla Martinez, and Sarah Rincon looked nervously at one another. They went up, one at a time, and fumbled with the remotes. The seniors had to help them.
The audience cheered, but the team members sized up the competition. They did not appear too scared.
Just as the students began to find their groove, their turn was over.
The energy level shot up when Team Seniors rose to take their turn. The women seated at the table jumped up and pulled bright yellow pompoms out of thin air.
The politeness was over. It was on.
A la bio, a la bao, a la bim bom ba! Los seniors, los seniors! Rah rah rah!
They cheered on their team members who, barely cracking a smile, hurled strike after strike.
Los estudiantes están perdiendo a las viejitos!
The cheerleaders were giddy. The students turned to look at each other. Stunned. They were still trying to figure out where the pompoms came from.
At the end of two rounds, Team Seniors was declared the winner with 1,342 points. Team CU had rallied in the second round but still came up short with 1,241 points.
The cheerleaders gathered around both teams, this time with a different cheer.
A la bio, a la bao, a la bim bom ba! Los jóvenes, los jóvenes! Rah rah rah!
“The young people give us energy, especially at our age,” said Consuelo Godwin, shaking her pompom. “They make us feel young.”
The young people also drew inspiration from the senior citizens. They realized that the seniors don’t spend their days “just” hanging out. In addition to Wii bowling, the seniors do ceramics, sew, exercise, go on field trips, socialize, and so much more.
“It’s encouraging, it makes the youth feel like we should be doing more,” said Fatima Ramirez, a member of Team CU.
“We didn’t lose by a lot, we weren’t completely demolished,” said Ivan Delgado, also of Team CU. “I would go back. Next time, all strikes. My goal is to train.”
Karla Martinez, also of Team CU, added, “I think the cheerleaders made a difference.”
The seniors let out one final cheer that brought back the smiles to the students’ faces.
A la bio, a la bao, a la bim bom ba! Todos, todos! Rah rah rah!