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The Right Approach...Views on the world of bowling.

Volume 2, Issue 33, The 85th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      I'm a bowler and I'm a mommy. Most people who know me, know that both roles are intrinsic parts of me. There are more times than not that I don't know where one role ends and the other begins: I visit a PBA stop, I take my son with me for a week. I take him bowling, I end up coaching in the program. So suffice it to say, I can double my mommy guilt when it comes to coaching my son. Anyone who's been bowling long enough knows that coaching among close family members is a recipe for disaster--husbands and wives, parents and children.

      Last year, even though I take the commitment to coach seriously, I had to miss a week of Michael's bowling while I was en route to the ABCs in Syracuse. That week my husband came home early, picked up the boy, and took him to league. I'll be the first person to tell you my husband is a better coach than I am, but given his schedule, he never wants to commit to something and do a halfhearted job. So it falls to me to be a junior coach.

      When my best friend and bowling partner picked me up at the airport, she handed me a slip of paper she had printed out from her computer. She'd had an online conversation with my son that afternoon while I was in transit. "I shot 100. Tell Mommy."

      So I read it, and cried. I'd missed the first big milestone in his bowling career. I called him, and gushed, and he was so jazzed. Yet, I felt cheated. It's the bowling equivalent of teaching a baby to say "Mama," only to have the baby beam while she belts out "Dada" over and over. Knowing the learning curve in bowling, I assured myself, there would be other triumphs, and odds were that I'd be there.

      Months went by. Granted, we've done a few things to Michael's game over the course of that time. One year ago, he was still standing at the line and swinging the ball from his side a few times before letting go. This fall his league folded, and we weren't successful finding another one during the week. So there were a few months where he was not bowling in league at all.

      But he came back to a league last month at another center, agreeing to give up his Saturday mornings to do so. And he added a four-step delivery. OK, being a stubborn child, he managed three awkward steps at first, but with the persuasion of another youth coach (again, Mommies don't know anything), he managed to work his way into four steps without too much difficulty within a month.

      So with all the changes in the last few months, I'd pretty much forgotten about any expectations of when I'd see him shoot a 100 in my presence. He's gotten close, with games in the high 90s, but like all thresholds, you can see the tension as a bowler starts thinking about what he's going to needs as his goal gets close.

      I guess sometimes greatness has humble beginnings. Michael's first game Saturday was a 54. I was working individually with some new bumper children on the concourse, teaching them to swing the ball with one hand. Michael was on the next pair over, so I was keeping up with how he doing, but not paying too much attention.

      I was walking by as I heard the now familiar "What do I need to do to get 100?" exchange between Michael and his dad. I looked up to see he had 74 in the eighth and a strike in the ninth. Quickly, I deposited a bumper child, and picked out another one for help, lingering in front of Michael's pair. I sent the girl on to the concourse, and said I'd be right there.

      His first shot went a bit too far left, giving him a six count, but since he left a 1-3-5-6, it was all together. He looked at me, and I tried not to sound nervous when I said, just throw your strike ball. His spare attempt chopped the 1 and the 3 off, and I looked to the telescore. I hadn't had time to figure out what he needed, but I was fearing yet another 98 or 99. Instead, as the bar came off his name, there were 3 digits in his score: 100.

I hugged him, smelled his hair, and hugged him hard. And I said, "You did it. You shot 100."

And Michael responded, "And you saw."

      And yes, I cried, squeezing for one more second so I didn't look like a blubbering fool. I guess he knew how much I wanted to see him shoot his version of a "trey bomb."

      It wasn't his first 100, but it was his highest series at 236. We celebrated at lunch, and later that night he talked me into something from Starbucks I'd normally never buy for him, but puppy dog eyes mixed with "But I shot 100 today" won out.

      I'm leaving for ABCs in Albuquerque in less than four weeks. I'm already wondering what he will shoot while I'm gone, but I'm not worried. I know he'll be ready to do it again.

Gotta Split,


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