11 strikes in a row, a good feat in baseball but an even more impressive feat in bowling. I’ve never been there before so to say I was nervous was an understatement. The first time I had nine in a row I was fortunate enough to keep the ball on the lane. The first time I had ten in a row I don’t even remember what happened, just that I didn’t bowl a 300.
Bowling for me started a LONG time ago.
I remember once I started to take it seriously I bowled a 23 and one of the shots flew off my hand, flew up in the air about 15 feet, and then came crashing down on the lane next to me. I also learned that there is oil on the lane when I went to fetch my ball and I probably looked like a marionette being controlled by a drunk puppeteer with the way my arms and legs were flailing.
After that I started to become obsessed with bowling. I would bowl after school, I would bowl on the weekend, I would WATCH bowling, I even got a job at the local bowling alley.
It was like a methadone addict working at a methadone clinic and now I just thought of Kid Rock and my day is ruined.
Eventually I found myself on the high school bowling team which clearly meant that I didn’t have a girlfriend. Bowling is the type of sport where girls like to go and have a good time, maybe get a few drinks, and look cute for the guy they are interested in. You see an immediate change in their face when you say, “hold on I need to go to my locker.” What happens there is that when you get back to the front desk, they are gone. And then you bowl by yourself, forever solidifying the fact that you should NEVER take a girl bowling.
The high school bowling team was a major component in my success. I would practice for HOURS trying to perfect my craft and get on the varsity team. The problem was I was up against guys who were much better than me and people who didn’t constantly scream whenever they threw a gutter ball. I screamed a lot.
My senior year I practiced so much and all the hard work finally paid off. The county tournament rolled around – no pun intended – and I was told I was going to be one of the starting bowlers. I finally reached my goal and it felt great, plus I knew girls really dug athletes and quickly learned that still doesn’t apply to bowling no matter how successful you were.
We ended up winning the tournament and I did my best to blow it by bowling at 140 in the 4th game and then I got taken off the team. I did get to have a giant pretzel and soda though, so I was happy. I also spilled the soda – which was about the size of a oil barrel – on the seating area around the lane. If you’re not familiar with bowling it’s imperative that you slide when you release the ball unless, of course, you don’t mind dislocating your knee.
Fast forward a few years and now I’m bowling in leagues with friends of mine. The elusive 300 game has gotten away from me many times. After high school I still enjoyed bowling but didn’t have the drive to still be good at it. It wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th time throwing nine strikes in a row that I realized I really wanted to bowl a 300 game, so I started to practice again. I kept getting closer and closer but never really getting there until one fateful night.
I have 11 strikes in a row and I’m standing on the approach. People are gathered around to watch my last shot, many of them hoping I fail miserably. I take the first few steps and my mind goes completely blank, I don’t even remember breathing. My arm starts to swing back and I start sliding and then I release the ball onto the lane. It couldn’t have taken more than 5 or 6 seconds to get to the pins but everything was in slow motion. The ball was rotating and eventually started to hook. And then it hit the pins and none were left standing.
I bowled a 300.
Everyone around me started to cheer. My friend John came up and hugged me and then many others followed suit. People were patting me on the back, rubbing my hair, and congratulating me. My smile was from ear to ear. I couldn’t believe that I actually did it. It was like the Super Bowl and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals all rolled into a burrito and it was delicious. I still savor that moment.
I’m not sure if you’re aware but when you bowl a 300 game you receive a ring along with it to commemorate your achievement. That ring represents all the hard work I put into that one moment. It represents how proud of myself I should be. It represents every sacrifice, big and small, is worth it once you reach your ultimate goal.
So keep reaching.