Somewhere in the fine print I have talked briefly about my enjoyment of bowling. As many of you know, my 1st sports love is golf, at my best I was only poorly good at it, but I loved it. Bowling I was pretty good, never great, but I didn’t embarrass myself at a bowling alley.
My earliest memories of bowling were as a kid, Dad taking the family on bowling adventures. I have no idea what I may have bowled, the only a few clear memories is that I did so in sock feet, and Dad only took us a few times.
I started bowling in earnest when I joined the Navy, it was one of 5 main events to do while in port and not working, in no particular order these five activities were; golf, bowling, drinking, cards and go-cart racing. The changing of money always took place no matter the activity. During my Navy years I won more often than not, playing card, go-cart racing and bowling. I could hold my own at golf, and we were all pros at drinking.
But this is about bowling. I don’t care what anyone says about bowling it is a sport. And as much as I loved golf, I never really practiced, but I practiced at bowling, and I practiced hard. I was never in more than 1 league at a time, and unless involved in a tournament I only bowled 3 games a week in competition. But for years I would bowl an additional 30 games a week in practice. I worked to make myself better, and I changed equipment when I felt it would help my game and at one point even had a coach.
I was involved in league bowling for 23 consecutive years. I was involved in youth bowling for 5 years, 3 of those my daughter bowled, and then I coached youth bowling for 2 years. I also bowled in summer leagues for 4 years. One was a men’s commercial league which was the most cut throat league I ever bowled in. Minimum average allowed 170; I barely slipped in with my 171 average at the time. But it was also the only time I won a major individual award. During that league I bowled my career best 279, with handicap it equaled a 307 which was single game high handicap score for the season, for which I was awarded the High Handicap Game Award, and it was also tied for 3rd best scratch score for the season.
Over the course of my 23 year run of bowling I was fortunate to meet, become friends with, and bowl for and against a guy named Robert. We met on a Tuesday night mixed league not far from we lived in Alexandria, VA. I am not going to say that Robert and I became friends immediately, but we had enough mutual interest that friendship happened. As bowlers we were competitive having approximately the same average, as guys we shared a sense of humor and a sense of right and wrong. As we aged we shared info about our ailments, Robert was on the kidney transplant list, but never made it to the top. My issues with my knees became changed to COPD.
Robert loved bowling, and talked and talked about putting together a team to participate in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Tournament. He asked me if I would want to take part, and off handedly said sure, he had talked about this team for a couple of years and I didn’t see it happening. Smiling, in October of 1997 Robert approached me and said remember you said you would be willing to participate if I put together a team for the National Tournament, I said sure I remember. And off we were. At the time of my beginning to bowl this tournament, my league average was a solid 182. Which meant on any given week you could expect me to throw one game in the 215 – 220 range or one in the 160 – 180 range, I was considered above average. February 1998 was the first of ten years of bowling in the National Tournament. Picture 1 shows the original team; we had to pick up a 5th at the tournament. Picture 2 shows the last team, Robert had lost his battle with kidney disease, and that’s his shirt draped over the bowling ball. Over those 10 years we bowled in the following: Reno NV – 1998, Syracuse NY – 1999, Albuquerque, NM – 2000, Reno NV – 2001, Billing MT – 2002, Knoxville TN – 2003, Reno NV – 2004, Baton Rouge LA – 2005, Corpus Christi, TX – 2006, Reno NV – 2007.