On pins and needles: Rolling with the Cascade bowling team
Herald writer Aaron Lommers rolls some frames with the Bruins and gets a few pointers, including don't quit your day job.
While my job is to serve adult beverages, one of the perks of working at a bowling alley is easy access to the lanes if I ever feeling like "throwing a few rocks" as some of my friends who are avid bowlers call it.
I'm not going to be joining the Professional Bowlers Association anytime soon, but in my time at WSB I have become a pretty decent bowler. I have bowled in a few leagues and carry about a 150 average. On a good day I can shoot in the low 200s.
So when the chance to do a story on the Cascade girls bowling team and their efforts to return to the state tournament came up, I jumped at the chance. It would be a good chance for me to see how practice runs for a high school bowling team and, thanks to head coach Ron Hicks, a chance to bowl a few frames with his team.
While I can score well, it's pretty safe to say that as far as bowling goes, I'm a novice. I throw the ball straight. I don't pay much attention to the boards or even where I line up. I simply look at the head pin and try to hit it as hard as I can.
To some extent it has paid off.
I bowled the final four frames of Hicks' game at the practice and didn't do too bad. The first time around I scored a nine on my first shot and picked up the spare. In the eighth frame I got a strike, the ninth another nine with a spare and in the 10th I struck and followed that with a four and a three.
After practice while conducting my interviews I asked coach Hicks to analyze my game.
Let's just say there is a lot he would change.
First of all, I focus on the pins like many of the girls Hicks coaches when they first try out. He tries to change that right off the bat
"I bring their target closer," he said. "The closer the target is the easier it is to hit it. We find a target that when they throw their ball will work toward that head pin or be around that head pin every time."
Many of my friends who bowl often have tried to teach me the same things, to no avail.
And as far as throwing the ball straight or curving it. It comes down to one simple thing. If you throw the ball straight as I do, you don't have a lot of room for error. Whereas bowlers who curve can throw a bad shot and still strike.
I also throw a 13-pound ball as opposed to a lot of other male bowlers who throw a 15 or 16-pound ball.
Most of these things, Hicks would change if he were coaching me.
"I would try to change (focusing on the pins instead of an arrow) and I would try to get you a heavier piece of equipment," Hicks said. "You are pretty young and pretty strong and if you could throw a 14 or a 15 it would slow you down. You would get some roll on the ball that would create more action with the pins."
It seems like a lot to change just to get good at something I do at the most four or five times a year. It also seems like it would be quite frustrating for a person that likes to see instant results like myself.
It looks like I will just have to accept the fact that I'm not in the same class as the girls on the Cascade bowling team. But honestly, I never expected to be.
In the past two weeks I have done a story on what it is like to play professional lacrosse and now have bowled with a high-school bowling team that has aspirations toward winning a state championship. I figure I have done enough to embarrass myself for a while.
For now, it's time to get back to what I do best. Write about sports, not play them.
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