How Bowling has Impacted my Life
By Rebekah Loker
Bowling has been a large part of my life for many years and has made a huge impact on the person I am today. I have been bowling tenpin for thirteen years now, however I started bowling five pin when I was three years old. Therefore, in total, I have been bowling for sixteen years. I have gained numerous experiences, learned multiple lessons, and have had many opportunities open up through this sport.
So how did I get started with bowling? When I was little, I remember my grandmother taking my brother and I with her to her five-pin league when we were visiting at her house. After she bowled her league, she always allowed my brother to bowl a game. I could barely lift the ball but had so much fun watching the ball roll down the lane and hit the pins. I fell in love with bowling and wanted to continue doing this. My mom and dad looked into what was available in my home community. There was a program called “Little Critters.” It was one game of five pin bowling followed by a snack. I had a lot of fun and made many new friends. We had our own bowling shirt and a year-end banquet. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to join the older kids and bowl three games, like my brother.
My brother decided he wanted to do tenpin one year, and I wanted to be just like him. So, the next year my parents signed me up for the youth tenpin league. My first year there I had to acquire lots of new skills, throw a bigger ball at twice as many pins. In the following years, I began competing in a few tournaments for Youth Bowl Canada (YBC). For instance, YBC Hi-Low Doubles, YBC Triple Teams, Zone Rounds, Provincials, and a few in house tournaments. I loved the feeling of competing against my peers as it pushed me to become better as a bowler. I also learned the value of sportsmanship by cheering on my fellow competitors. Always ensuring I gave high fives no matter what.
In 2012, I competed in the Youth Bowl Canada Championships, which was a tournament where bowlers would compete to earn a spot on the YBC Southern Ontario Team that would go to Nationals that year. When I was bowling in this tournament, I didn’t really understand what I was competing for. I thought it was a fun tournament to have fun and meet new people. I didn’t realize I was anywhere close to winning the tournament until after I had finished bowling. People I had never met before, came up to me and started to congratulate me. I was very confused as to what was going on until my mom told me that I came in first place by eight pins. This was the first time I had ever been on Team Southern Ontario. I was on the team with two older girls who had been to nationals multiple times before. I was intimidated by how great they were. I didn’t know what to expect going to nationals and was very nervous. However, these girls willingly took me under their wing and shared their experiences with me, making me feel calmer about everything. They were so kind and caring, always sharing their tips with me, and cheering me on. They made me feel a part of the team instantly. I am so grateful for everything my teammates and their families have shared with me. These people became an extended part of the family. They taught me about things like bowling camps, Youth Bowling Tour (YBT) as well as other types of competitions like the Ivan Nelson, JR Gold, Ybowl Cup, Canadian Youth Championships (CYC), Team Canada and Tournament of Americas.
This was the moment that I wanted to learn more about the sport and become more competitive. It was then I learned that there was more to bowling than just house shots. I learned about specific oil patterns, different equipment, and when I needed to make adjustments on the lanes in order to get the results that I wanted. I was hooked!! I loved going to practices whenever it was possible and absorbing all the information that was given. I learned from lots of different coaches and gained different perspectives of the sport. WIth the help of all these people my confidence in my abilities grew. I loved everything about going to different centers, meeting new people and gaining new skills every single time I bowled. They have inspired me to continue to dream and work towards the goals I have set for myself. For example, I made three more Nationals as a member of the Southern Ontario team for both YBC and CYC, and participated in international events with JR Gold.
I know firsthand that this sport can be frustrating at times and not all games will go the way that you want. I have fallen short on multiple occasions but have taken each of these experiences as an opportunity to grow. I am well known from my attitude on and off the lanes. I smile through the good and the bad shots; trying to make the next ball my best one. I have become a role model to many other athletes and share my knowledge and experiences with others.
Bowling has enabled me to travel to many various places that I am not sure I would have had the chance to visit. Through visiting different places with Nationals and JR Gold, I learned that there are opportunities to get scholarships and to bowl collegiately. I have been able to visit many campuses, and I’ve spoken to multiple different coaches about my abilities and how they view me as an athlete. I am excited to say that in the Fall of 2019 that I will be attending Ottawa University in Kansas, studying Exercise Science. Six years ago, I never thought that this would ever be possible. As I embark into my new bowling adventures with this team, I will continue to work towards my other goals and dreams. I am working towards becoming a Physiotherapist, make Team Canada and to continue to inspire all athletes to follow their own goals and aspirations.