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Well tomorrow is the end-of-season banquet for the Wednesday night league I bowl on. It is the close of bowling for the Winter 2004-2005 season, and I am looking forward to the break. I thought I’d share a little bit of my history in bowling dating back to my young teenage years in Overland Park.
It was another one of those long, boring summers in the early 90s, when I was around 14 years old or so… when going to the public pool and playing stickball in the neighborhood was just getting to be too much of a regular thing and getting old fairly quickly. I want to say it was the summer of 1994. Anyway, my brother, myself, and a couple neighborhood friends went to the local bowling alley just up the road for a casual game of bowling. This was to be the beginning. We had so much fun; I instantly became addicted. I wanted to bowl more. So the next week, we took advantage of a special summer rate and went again.
By the fall, we were all in our first youth bowling league. We all sucked (relatively speaking), with an average around 110 or so. I remember having a 114 average the first month of the league. I got my first bowling ball from K-mart, some POS plastic Brunswick ball, but it was drilled specifically for my hand, with my name engraved above the fingers!! I thought this was so cool. With this bowling ball, I began to try out "the hook". Now, plastic bowling balls, because of the outer material, are not meant to hook… but I tried to hook it anyway. It turned out that by the end of that bowling season, I turned my 114 average into something like a 146.
It wasn’t until the next season that I got my first "reactive resin" bowling ball. My average continued to climb. My brother and I bowled every Saturday morning, and it was something we looked forward to every day of the week. Our home house was AMF College Lanes in Overland Park, KS. Another year went by, and I decided to bowl in the Kansas City youth travel league. The competition was very intimidating. There were a couple of incredible youth bowlers, and one youth in this league who bowled out of Independence carried about a 220 average with one of the most graceful and intimidating styles I had ever seen. I knew he was gonna be a professional bowler sometime down the line… and sure enough he did, Ritchie Allen, and has actually won a national PBA event.
So my "golden season" as a youth bowler, when I really began to blossom, was probably the 1996-97 season when I was carrying around a 210 average, touching 215 many times. I bowled my first 300 game on May 4th, 1997, at a YABA (Young America Bowling Alliance) sanctioned tournament in North Kansas City (Kansas City Open). I continued to carry an average between 210 and 215 through 1999, my last season as a YABA sanctioned bowler. My last Kansas State Youth (Coca-Cola) Tournament was spring of 1999. I bowled in the scratch division and won the state tournament in Wichita. It is my biggest tournament bowling accomplishment to date; winning this tournament allowed me to participate in the International Youth Coca-Cola Classic Tournament in Salt Lake City, UT in August – all expenses paid. What an incredible experience as a youth bowler to be able to compete with the world’s best young bowlers; several of which were certainly bound to make bowling their profession.
I ended up finishing like 46th out of 64 in the scratch division of that tournament, but the experience, again, was just awesome. So came to an end, my days as a YABA bowler. Afterwards, I was putting pretty much all of my focus on my education and bowling was tertiary following school/studying and other meteorological/storm chasing activities. This pretty much took most all of my time from the end of 1999 up until the beginning of 2002. I made it a vow to get back in to bowling once I settled down with a new job…. so this leads me to Dodge City.
Upon moving to Dodge City for my new job, I started bowling only about a month later on a Thursday night league. I carried about a 205 average right off the bat, and then I began substituting on a regular basis on my co-worker’s Wednesday night team. This takes me up to current time. I am still bowling on both leagues, but my Thursday night team is now moving to Tuesday nights for the 2005-06 season, and I will more than likely be the regular 5th man on Wednesday night… we shall see! Since moving to Dodge City, I have bowled 5 more perfect game 300s, 2 of them in un-sanctioned tournaments, unfortunately. But, I do have two ABC 300 rings now to go along with my one YABA 300 ring and YABA 300 jacket, which, yes I am proud of
For reasons that should be obvious to those that know me, I only bowl with "Storm" equipment