last week (on 27/4/16), something extremely significant occurred. my bowling journey (schools-wise) ended!
last wednesday was the very last day of my very last competition in these 6 years of playing for (2) schools. sure, there was masters on the 30th (saturday), but it wasnt as important to me as i wasnt competing (woke up real early to watch it though — our teammates won 2nd for both guys & girls!! they put up an extremely admirable fight)
the weeks/months leading to this competition was intense – jam-packed with training, team lunches, batch studying sessions and insanely unforgettable bus rides (mr. white & charades). they were undeniably tiring days, undeniably frustrating days even, but nonetheless, i enjoyed myself to no end. it was the perfect way to end this long journey of mine, and though i am sad to leave, as we all must, i am (considerably) much more grateful for picking up this sport 6-7 years ago.
when i first started out, i was bowling for fun. i was bowling with my cousins, taking after my brother (i’ve always wanted to compete with/against him in everything besides sailing) and not really caring about my techniques being correct, and not really caring about the scores that unfolded on the monitors above and before me. this mere hobby turned into something much more, though, when i joined AGAPE and got more serious about bowling. my parents pushed me into the sport (by this point, i’d been voicing out my displeasure at being forced into swimming for a long time, so i assume they’d been trying to find me an alternative), and though i was (still am, sometimes) riddled with self-consciousness, i soon found that i was having fun learning a totally foreign sport. before this, the only sports i’d known were swimming, table tennis & badminton – all of which are, in no way, related to bowling.
i admit that i wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of mental exertion and control bowling demanded. my coaches always say, “Bowling is a mental sport“, and they are absolutely right. the intensity of the focus required shocked me when i realised i was more tired mentally than physically after training one day, and i could have given up (we both know how bad my mental state can be), but i persevered because i saw a beauty in the sport. a beauty that persists despite hours and hours of fruitless training sessions, persists despite a plethora of injuries and muscle disproportions, persists despite countless (genuinely countless) disappointments, despairs and downward spirals.
the roll of a reactive ball soothes me as much as it mocks me sometimes – mine is slow, of course, hooking way too early due to my snap-back (extension, sonia!! extension!!!), but it taught me patience in the early days when i was made to hold my finishing position until my ball reached the pins. the straight trajectory of a plastic/polyester ball gives me a sense of certainty, as i always know where my ball will go. i turn away too early sometimes, walking back down the approach and to the console either annoyed (that my ball wasn’t headed for the spare) or victorious (when i knew i could depend on my 12lb Columbia White Dot to roll over the pin/s).
i will miss the comforting feeling of letting the weight of my ball(s) sit in the crook of my right arm, or in my left as i’m waiting for my turn to go. the etiquette in bowling has made me (as all etiquette do, i suppose) become more mindful, more considerate and (of course) more courteous. the polite demeanour with which you high-five an opponent, or the simple and plain exuberance you exude when you high-five your elated teammate will never leave me. i will always miss this spirit, this competitive team spirit, that drove me to continue even though all the signs pointed to me quitting.
as much as i’ve learned from the sport, i believe i have learned more from the people i bowl with. my teammates – be it from TKGS, CSC or RI, have all, in some shape or form, contributed to my growth as a person, friend, teammate and sportsperson. without them, i am certain that i would not be the same person i am now. they have all influenced me in different ways (some more insidiously than others, but influence they did all the same).
just this year, my team (RI) helped me through some incredibly tough times. bertrand, rae ann, falisha, boaz, ryan, daryl, valerie, shaun, nicole – though our time as a team out on the lanes has ended, all of you will have a place in my heart for as long as it shall go on. i don’t think i’ll ever tire of the fun times we had (& will have – i’m not letting this batch go for a long long time to come), and i don’t think i’ll ever forget the camaraderie and energy we shared and created as a batch. you guys are the best batch i could’ve ever wished for, and though we all come from different walks of life, i think it’s safe to say that we’ve had the great fortune of being able to form an enviable batch. in the words of a senior from a year+ ago, when we’d just come together, “I think that anyone can be EXCO, and I think that no matter what happens your batch will be damn nice to work with. Cause you guys are already so bonded. Everything will be fun.”
everything was fun. and meaningful. and wonderful. we’ve done it, guys. we won girls 1st, and guys 2nd. thank you for this breathtaking run. it was impeccable, immaculate, and impossibly brilliant, and i wouldn’t have had it any other way. thank you. i will never be able to thank you enough. thank you.
i will leave this world of bowling for a few months (possibly 6-7) to focus my energy on a levels (as we are all encouraged to), but i will undoubtedly miss it, and i will feel it like a phantom life, a phantom life cloaking over my movements and making my middle- and ring-finger grip air while my thumb slides cleanly out of a perfectly tailored ghost insert.
to end off this (really long) post, i’d just like to thank all my coaches and friends from bowling — from AGAPE (coach aloysius & coach leonard!!) to TKGS (uncle adam & coach clara!!) to CSC (uncle rick & coach jeff!!) and finally to RI (uncle yong, coach eugene & uncle jensen!!). they will probably never see this, but future!sonia, these are the people you should be grateful to. remember this.
what a wondrous journey it was. i will love and cherish it for a long time to come. thank you. thank you. thank you.
see you (soon) with a next post.