Weekly Pin Therapy

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I have always enjoyed recreational bowling since I was a teenager. Up until last year, I never bowled on a league. Always thought I needed to have an average up around 200 to compete. My average was more like 150.

Last year as I was recreationally bowling at Ft. Benning’s main post bowling alley, I saw signs advertising a Monday night league. THAT, I might be willing to try. I needed something recreational and different to do on a Monday night. I signed my name to the sheet just below where it said “This is a handicapped league.” I believed I could play in such a league.

The first night I showed up around Labor Day 2012. The place was packed. They quickly assigned me to three other players, Deloris – the mother of an active duty Army General, Tyrone – the manager of the Ft Benning Bingo Hall, and Atsuko – 80 yr old Japanese born naturalized American citizen , who loved to drink two Jack Daniels and mix one with her Ensure. I stunk in league bowling. Tried to do too much. I discovered I wasnt as relaxed as I would be during recreational bowling.

But as the year progressed at work, during the rear detachment duties of our brigade’s deployment, I found that Monday night league to be my oasis. Most of the league bowlers were retirees – many of them Army veterans or DoD civilian retirees. And most of them bowled in leagues for years. But before the start of each game there was often a prayer, prayer requests for hospitalized league members, etc. Two times during rhe season we all brought covered dishes and feasted. It was a competitve family atmosphere. They accepted me even though my average dropped to 142.

Monday nights became my $16 a night therapy. I gradually learned to relax, breathe slowly, and slow my rolls down. My average started to climb. At the end of the season, even though our team “The Moon Lighters” placed 20th out of 22 teams, each of us collected over $200 of our money back!

I couldnt wait for this season. In fact, I really missed the Monday night “Agressors” League over the summer. The first night of this season was last week. I showed up, not knowing whose team I’d be on. I was sad to see my old teammates from last season didn’t make it. But I was delighted to be teamed up with a retired Army Command Sergeant Major who is in his mid-70’s who bowls a slow steady ball while leaning on his four-pronged cane. Also on our team are Maureen and Brenda, two retirees. Racially, I am in the vast minority in our league. But we dont care about race. We care about sportsmanship and friendship. And just after two nights, Walter, the CSM, is a blessing and pleasure to bowl with. It inspires me to see him hobble to the line and throw a strike or spare. Then turn and with that big grin, hobble back to high five everyone on both teams.

Im already bowling more relaxed, and seeing a rise in my scores. We are called “Three Queens and an Ace” a holdover name from last year. Not sure how it applies this year but who cares. We have a ball! I look forward to Monday nights and my $16 recreational group therapy. Thank God for a Ft. Benning bowling league and the opportunity I have to bowl with alot of veterans!

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