For these competitors, the enemy lies 60 feet away

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

By Nick Badgio

For The Salisbury Post

Sixty feet away stand my opponents. In my mind, each of them is as tall as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, despite having short, fat bodies. Their power is in numbers: 10 of them and only one of me. I cannot escape this confrontation. To my left and right are dark abysses. I grab my weapon. I try to concentrate, but the 10 stand with such cockiness I choke. I begin my charge. I hurl my weapon, but I feel my elbow crackle and my legs collapse.

Despite my best efforts, I only knock down one pin. Coach Nick Paolino calls my name and points to his elbow. My follow-through was off.

Welcome to Salisbury High School boys’ bowling!

We all had different reasons for joining. Many have been bowlers since they were young. For them, this is another opportunity to play the game they love. Others were intrigued by the free bowling. Others, like me, have never bowled before and are playing for a new challenge. I also joined because I was pressured by friends and classmates. Now I find myself spending Mondays bowling competitively and Wednesdays practicing my game — which others have called “not good.”

My teammate Isaiah Fernandez steps up to the wood.

“Remember the follow-through!” I shout.

Coach Nick tells us that the most two important fundamentals of bowling are the follow-through and mental preparation. He tells us that we need to be relaxed when we bowl. Isaiah begins his attack.

I can tell from his distinct follow-through if he is going to do well. His hand will stop right above his eyes, as if he is peering into some far-off land. If his follow-through ends with his hand closer to his ear, as if he is trying to listen to the pins, then his success is not as probable.

This time, I see signs of success. He hits the pocket, right between the one pin and the two pin. The pins crumble, we hear the classic sound of wood bouncing off the ball and we begin to cheer!

But after the smoke clears, one pin remains.

I have tagged this type of incident the “lone cone.”

“Use the magic fingers,” I cry to my flustered comrade.

“This always happens to me,” he replies.

Teammate Donelle Eller gives him sound advice. “Just slow it down and knock it down.”

On the other side of the alley stands Salisbury Team 1. This is the best Salisbury has to offer!

The team is led by Josiah Fernandez, Matt Sabo and Tevin Vincent, the whistling bowler. Tevin, the ace of the team, is the only member to own a ball and bowling shoes. Despite this team lacking personal equipment, they still manage to play with the best, which is just about every East Rowan squad. I don’t know what they do to train, but every single member can bowl. I have pondered if Earl Anthony’s spirit abides in the holes of their bowling balls!

What has this bowling league done for me?

First, it has made me appreciate bowlers. Bowling is a difficult game. Few can master it. It has also allowed me to meet new people. They are warm and upbeat. If I am in a slump, they will offer advice. I have received plenty of advice.

When they perform well, my teammates and I congratulate them, and they do the same for us.

There is a special bond that is formed when we all bowl. Even though we are competing against each other, we realize that we are not each others’ number-one enemy.

It is the common foe we all face– those 10 short, fat pins located 60 feet in front of us.

Nick Badgio is a senior at Salisbury High School and a Post intern.