Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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20200219 WiiBowling IMG 0869It was probably 10 years ago that I stepped onto a bowling lane and had the greatest game of my life.

My team was in the semifinals of our league tournament and I was horrible, barely managing a 120 average for the season.

On this day, however, for one game, I came through. Out of nowhere everything lined up and fell, as they were supposed to. When we were done, I had rolled a 268 and we were moving onto the semifinals.

Reality is cruel, however, and it took me two games to surpass the 268 I had bowled in that one game. My passion for bowling was struck down for good.

It's back, however, after walking through Bit O Heaven's bowling alley. Well, it's not really a bowling alley, but every Monday for eight straight weeks you can hear the balls barreling down the alleys and the pins clashing as the ball strikes them.

20200219 WiiBowling IMG 0872This is Wii Bowling, and it's the most popular activity at the Donna RV park as 200 bowlers compete in the league.

Bonnie Cadwalader is from Illinois and she has been at Bit O Heaven for 20 years. She's been part of the Wii Bowling league – which consists of four-person teams – since it started. Recently she bowled a 300 and last week she was on her way for a second perfect game.

People gathered around to watch her strike gold for a second time. They collectively cheered as she sent the final ball down the lane. Perfection wasn't for her this time, but who's gonna be upset with a 297?

“They startled me there at the end,” she said. “That's why.”

Bonnie is a small lady with a gigantic and fun personality. She isn't a regular bowler but she's a competitor on the Wii Bowling lanes. She also loves to play shuffleboard and, I was told, the 88-year-old from Illinois can “kick it up a notch or two on the dance floor as well.”

Kip Smith who, two years ago bowled back-to-back perfect games and ended coming barely short of a perfect series with three straight 300s, is among the top 20 Wii Bowlers at the park. He said he hasn't bowled at an alley since probably when he was in eighth grade but enjoys the eight weeks. As part of a 10-person committee, he said it takes a lot of volunteer hours to make sure everything is done right – from putting the TVs up on the wall, connecting the Wiis and troubleshooting on match days take hours to keep the team and individual stats up to date.

Currently, Diane Hart leads all bowlers in total pins with 4,968 of ‘em knocked down. She’s 170 pins ahead of Bruce Allen at 4,798 and 284 ahead of Jim Allen. Ralph Hart is fourth at 4,322 while Roger Olson rounds out the top five at 4,322.

Hart is also part of team “Incredibowls,” who have 16,925 total pins on the season. “The Bikers” are close in second with 16,576. The next closest is team “The Agates” with 14,752.

While the Wii Bowling league is for fun, as most Winter Texan activities are, there's still the feel of heated competition in the air.

You can hear the cheers for strikes or tough spares picked up, and the groans when the 7-pin stays firm. Marielle Pare threw both arms up in the air after she clamored home a strike. Another bowler in the next lane leaned far to his right, hoping that would affect the path of the ball to the pins – it didn't, but he looked great doing it.

At one point I got in the way of one bowlers backswing as I made a straight line to the snack table. The glare stayed with me the rest of the time there. And I swear I heard the words “knock you down,” muttered as I excused myself and walked away.

Suddenly, my 120 average came back to the front of my memory. Maybe I'll wait a little more to get into bowling. But when I do, it definitely will be Wii Bowling.

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