John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs It’s only nine games, but for some bowlers, the scores they roll at the state bowling championships are the biggest of the season.
The state tournament spans several weekends in April and May. It attracts bowlers from every corner of the state to compete for titles in singles, doubles and team events. This year’s tournament is being hosted by two bowling houses in Denver, but the tournament rotates to different parts of the state every other year and has taken place in Grand Junction, Greeley, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs in recent years.
The tournament may not be as big as it once was, but it still manages to draw thousands of competitors, each hoping to cash in on prize money and bragging rights by reaching for their best throughout two days of competition.
For something like 20 years, I’ve been among the group of hopefuls looking to roll a big series, or three, at the state tournament. I’ve managed to roll some good games and even make a few bucks throughout the years, but I’m still waiting for that weekend when everything falls into place in all three events. My guess is that I still will be waiting for that weekend when I’m old and gray.
What I’ve learned is that bowling your best at the tournament never is an easy task. The pace of the games is fast, and a few bad frames can add up quickly and wreck an otherwise enjoyable weekend. That’s why it’s best not to take things too seriously.
I guess the reality that I’m way too old to join the PBA Tour hasn’t quite sunk in, but in the back of my mind, I know that ship sailed a long time ago. I’m slowly starting to understand that the state tournament is a place that allows me to find my competitive spirit for a few days and wrap up the league season on a high note. It’s also a good time to share with the teammates I’ve bowled with once each week throughout the winter.
Truth is that it’s fun to have a good game or two, but the experience of hanging out with other people who enjoy and understand the sport of bowling is worth the trip to state, no matter where it’s held.
It’s hard for me to explain to my non-bowling friends why the state tournament is such a big deal. Most of them don’t understand why I bowl in the first place.
The tournament is a chance to travel to a new bowling center and compete against not only the best bowlers in the state but a huge field of bowlers of every age and ability. I’ve learned that it’s not about beating those other bowlers. It is about celebrating and sharing a sport I’ve loved since childhood.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com