Originally published in Humble Observer
February 12, 2008
By JONATHAN YARDLEY
I felt really sore last week, and it was not from celebrating my Giants’ Super Bowl victory or from my Sunday-league soccer game.
No, I was feeling the burn because of bowling. Real bowling, that is, not the Wii version.
Observer sports reporter Joe Musarra and I cover high school sports year round, but rarely do we get to participate, except to return an errant volleyball or basketball while taking pictures from the sidelines.
Bowling, however, is a sport for every man or woman, so we went to practice one afternoon with the Humble high school bowling team. And we were still feeling it a week later.
Although I was in a bowling league as a kid and once received a bowling ball for Christmas, I had never thought of bowling as an endurance sport.
Practicing with Humble seniors Chris Johnson and Steven Pickel, however, made believers out of us.
Things started innocently enough. Humble coach Don Seagraves, coaching his last year after 28 years as a bowling coach, welcomed us and set us up with Pickel and Johnson on adjacent lanes.
During a practice round, Johnson (Humble’s homecoming king back in October) tried to show me the secret to putting spin on the ball. But my attempts generally went straight into the gutter, so my bowling throws remained as straight as my baseball pitches.
After the practice game, we paired up into teams based on our practice scores. I came to play in the opening game, racking up a 155 as Johnson and I crushed Pickel and Musarra.
My ability to pick up spares — my only demonstrable bowling skill — seemed to desert me toward the end of the second game, however, and I finished with a 122 as Johnson and I went down to defeat.
We settled the series with a decisive third game, but the ball suddenly seemed twice as heavy in my hands. I tried too hard to compensate for my decreasing strength and wound up pulling the ball left or leaving it right.
Before I knew it, we were in the 10th frame, and I had no chance at even reaching 100. I finished with an embarrassing 84, and Pickel and Musarra easily claimed the win.
For the record, I beat Joe on total pinfall from the three games that counted, 271-268, but both Humble guys were in the 200s on most individual games.
Our lasting memory of the afternoon, however, will be the lingering pain and soreness in our forearms, hands and backs. All because we bowled four games in less than an hour.
It may not be football, baseball, basketball or track, but bowling is an endurance contest nonetheless.