Saturday, September 29, 2007


I know I've been complaining about my job a lot lately. Since mid-July, things have been pretty much non-stop with renovations, new staff, new leagues, and a whole bunch of people asking questions that I'm supposed to know the answers to. Despite all of the stress and hullabaloo, this weekend is a perfect example of what I enjoy about my job.

Today was the first intercollegiate bowling tournament of the season. Typically this event is held at Rebman's up in Lorain, but this year it was moved to Pittsburgh. The last time I was in Pittsburgh for a bowling tournament, things were less than stellar so I approached this weekend with a certain level of skepticism.

Due to the distance, we stayed overnight. Since we didn't leave Oberlin until well after 7pm Friday, no one was really up for extensive partying and many of us turned in relatively early. Somehow even with 4-5 hours of sleep, just about everyone seemed refreshed going into practice at 7:45 this morning. Tom's goal with the tournament, and with every tournament really, is that every bowler bowls to the best of their ability, supports their teammates, and has a fun learning experience. For some reason, everyone took those criteria seriously. People on both the Crimson (A) and Gold (B) teams were winning their head-to-head matches and also bowled some big scores on really challenging conditions. I don't think the energy dipped once on the Gold team, which featured many bowlers who have not gone through the gauntlet of a bowling tournament. The Crimson team had a slightly more challenging road, but they managed to win 3 out of 5 head-to-heads in their match against Saginaw Valley (the 2-Time defending National Champions) and only lost the team total by 25 pins. I know that sounds like "umm, that's great? I guess?", but if you told me that was going to happen today I probably would have stopped paying attention to you. The coach from Wright State (a really nice fella who has been extremely helpful on several occasions) even commented that Oberlin's marked improvement over the last couple of seasons is creating a buzz among the other schools.

The biggest game of the day happened in the final baker series between the Crimson team and the University of Cincinnati C team. Going into the set Oberlin was leading Cincy by about 50 pins in the overall standings. Cincy won the first match by about 20 pins and they earned a 20 pin bonus for winning the match. Cincy earned another bonus after they took the second game by 10 pins or so. Going into the 15th baker game of the day (which followed 5 team games), everyone was ready to go home and tired of the ever-frustrating lane conditions. Bryan led the charge by chucking the ball as hard as he could, as speed and power were what the lanes called for. The other guys decided to follow suit and managed to string together a 5-bagger that gave them a score of 223. At this point Cincy was mathematically eliminated from winning the third game and the 20 bonus pins. Cincy ended up bowling a score that completely canceled out their advantage from the first two games, allowing Crimson to maintain their position in the standings.

As Crimson finished, the Gold team was in the 2nd game of their final baker series against OU-Chillicothe. Chillicothe joined the conference last year and the best way to describe them would be "ragtag". But like the A-Team, not like the Island of Misfit Toys. The people on the team are really nice and they remind me of the Oberlin C team when I first started. Due to the lower strike percentages on both of these teams, the rest of the center had pretty much cleared out while they finished up. After every shot there was sincere cheering and support within and between both teams. At this point, Tom declared the match-up as the championship final, since both teams were meeting the criteria he established prior to the tournament. The Gold team took all three games, but there was so much mutual admiration between the teams that we were all winners. It's rather Montessori, I know, but doggone it I much prefer leaving a tournament with none of the bowlers pissed off about something. Everyone had some victory or positive experience to take from the tournament and I am now filled with optimism about this season. Afterwards, Brian invited us all to this pizza place in the city that allowed everyone to relax and have a good meal before hitting the road.

No one got lost. No one blew up in the parking lot. Everyone bowled well. Pittsburgh has redeemed itself.

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