Selena Puente, Contributing Writer
There is nothing quite like the smell of french fry grease at nine in the morning, but this is one of the key smells that marked my childhood. My mother and father are avid bowlers, and their passion knows no bounds. I recall times as a kid when my parents would make us a grand breakfast, and then immediately get us into the car, just so we could get to the bowling alley before it opened. Then I grew older and by some freak chance, the high school bowling team sponsor, who also happened to be the sweetest old man in existence, heard that I was quite the bowler and asked if I would like to join the team. Even though visions of what might happen to me socially were flashing before my eyes, indicated by the graph included with this article, I had to say yes to high school life on the lanes.
I know that bowling isn’t typically considered a quintessential high school sport (or any sort of sport to get all excited about), but before I continue, I feel like I need to defend it. For example, even though we never scrimmaged, ran six miles or had pep rallies, we were still one hard-working group of nerds. I distinctly remember that the boys’ team had to do ten push-ups whenever they didn’t pick up all their pins (a torturous thing that the girls were spared from). There was even one time when some unfortunate soul face-planted on his last push-up because the floor was so greasy!
We also practiced three times a week for three hours, and had to bowl other teams on the days we weren’t practicing. On average, you burn 115 calories per game, and so we all probably burned 400 calories a day. I remember coming home from practices and ravenously searching our San Antonio abode for any sign of food; bowling alley popcorn and soda is only so filling.
As I continued to bowl and began to look forward to bowling practice, I realized that I’d been looking at the idea of a sport all wrong. I always felt embarrassed when my parents would tell other parents that their daughter was captain of the girls’ varsity bowling team, but then my embarrassment blossomed into a sweet sort of satisfaction.
After all, what is a sport? To me, a sport is working together and working hard. Believe me, after a grueling day of high school, usually the last thing I wanted to do was attend our three-hour practices in places where the only other occupants were potbellied men who were more motivated by cheap beer than the enjoyment of a bowling game and bored teenage workers who spent more time picking their faces and smoking than helping us whenever we insisted that the ball was stuck down the alley. But somehow I began to love the quirkiness, the company of my fellow teammates and the fun of the game.
I think that’s exactly why participating in a sport is worthwhile: it creates an opportunity to do something simple and forces you to do it consistently, while also enjoying the company of people you might not have otherwise had the blessing of meeting.