Volume 2, Issue 21, The 73rd Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
So much of bowling is about wins and losses or concern over where the sport is heading, sometimes it's nice to just sit back and celebrate the accomplishments of those who make this sport what it is. Most local bowling associations have Hall of Fames, as do the state and national organizations to honor both those who excel in the sport and those behind the scenes who make it run smoothly. Our association has a committee responsible for inducting honorees into our Hall of Fame during a catered luncheon. When the chairperson moved out of the area, I volunteered to be on this committee to fill the void, but before I knew it, I was chairperson.
I knew I was in for a challenge since I had never attended a Hall of Fame banquet, but I reasoned that I could bring new ideas and a lot of enthusiasm. I could blend the trials and tribulations of committee members past with my drive and desire to do a good job. The president told me she had faith in me, and that was enough. Yet, I had no idea how much support I would need.
Calling for nominations was easy. I have a talented husband who designs for the publishing industry. He became the stealth member of the committee. We designed fliers, sent out the applications, and I approached two people I felt were deserving. The funniest thing about people who belong in the Hall of Fame--they are astonished to be considered. People with incredible talent (Superior Performance) or who give huge parts of their lives (Meritorious Service) think of bowling as "just something that they do."
When time came to make a decision, amazingly, the meeting went smoothly. Our committee was composed of mostly new board members, with just a smattering of veterans, so there wasn't that politicking that local associations can be known for. After we reviewed nominations, and the committee chose to send on three nominees, we took them to the full board for a vote. All three nominees were selected, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Little did I know the real work was just going to begin.
Mind you, I didn't have a wedding reception in this magnitude--sit-down luncheon, guest list, menu, table decorations, and the like--so planning something so tradition-laden while being very new to the process was daunting. But we persevered, asking for opinions from everyone on the board and listening to conflicting recollections of how it was done one year versus another.
Budget? What's a budget? While the attendees of the luncheon are expected to purchase tickets, the inductees and guests are paid by the association. Things like flowers, plaques, memory books, decorations, invitations, and postage all come out of a budget. A budget made for two now needed to accommodate three inductees. We were resourceful, and one talented woman created table decorations. My stealth member did the invitations. Playing phone tag with the inductees and committee members became a pastime during the ensuing weeks. One of the women being inducted quietly suggested delegating things in order not to drown in the details. I can now thank her for keeping my sanity intact.
Could we create new traditions without offending those who expected the old way? None of the committee was eager to speak before the group, so one new idea was to have "guest" speakers read the bios. Each of these presenters was familiar with an inductee, and no person would have to speak too long. A junior coach would speak for our Superior Performer, and two board members would speak for our Meritorious Service inductees.
It wasn't until a couple weeks before the event I realized that despite my best attempts there would be those who would expect me to speak in front of the group. Mind you, writing this column for my three perceived readers isn't the least bit threatening to me. But stick a microphone in front of my face, and ask me to speak, and I panic. They say public speaking is a fear worse than death, and they're right.
What's an RSVP? In California, that's a good question, but one of the committee members handled the acceptances and the regrets. Daily changing headcounts earned me a new best friend in the catering coordinator. One member was bringing the cake. Another member would be taking pictures. I was creating memory books the night before the event.
Arriving early that morning, there were still things to handle: decorations on the tables, greeting guests. We planned the segues, and everyone had jobs to do. I was so nervous, I could hardly eat, I wasn't being inducted, but the entire show was my baby. I know I spoke on that darn mic several times, and I lived to tell about it. I took solace in the fact that the inductees and presenters were a bit nervous too.
During one of the biographies of an inductee, the nominee leaned over and said jokingly, "When someone else says it, it really does sound like I did something." Maybe that's what these events are all about. Not only to say "Thank you for what you've done," but to also hold up a mirror and help them realize their own accomplishments. Because sometimes, bowling isn't about winning, but joining together in community. Celebrating the legacy of this sport around family and friends is worth all the effort.