One of greatest features about bowling is that anyone can do it and have fun.
A cranker's huge hook, a youngster's back-up ball, the senior citizen's slow roller that curves gently into the pocket -- they're all the same when the 10 pins get knocked down.
Cindy and Mark Rine, like most working couples who bowl, do it purely for fun.
The Rines live in Ellicott City and bowl at Brunswick Normandy Lanes in the Sunday Afternoon mixers.
Mark Rine is employed by the Digital Corp.; Cindy Rine works for Chevy Chase Federal Savings. Their time together is limited.
Bowling allows them to do something together no matter what the weather is and to compete with others on an equal footing.
Mark Rine has a high game of 237. His wife's high game is 204. Those kind of scores place them with the great majority of recreational bowlers.
But those kind of scores also allow them to bowl in tournaments. And that's what the Rines did.
They qualified twice at Normandy Lanes during the summer to gain a spot in the scotch doubles tournament that had its finals at Brunswick Normandy Lanes over the Labor Day weekend.
"I really like the scotch doubles format; it means that Mark and I really do bowl together," Cindy Rine said.
In scotch doubles, each partner throws a ball alternately. Whatever one partner does directly affects what the other does. What the Rines did was wonderfully simple; they bowled games of 174, 173 and 186. Added to that was their handicap of 62 pins a game, giving them a total of 695. That was just three pins better than the runners-up, Bronson and Deanna Schalizki.
It earned them first place and $1,000.
"The new lanes seem to have helped my bowling," Cindy Rine said. Over the summer, synthetic lanes were installed at Brunswick Normandy.
The new lanes seem to be helping the All-Star Varsity bowlers on Saturday mornings.
In Division I -- that includes Bantams, 8 and under; and Preps, 9 through 11 -- 10-year-old Eric Kelsey, who lives in Ellicott City, had a set that was 92 pins over his average. Eric, a fifth-grader at Waverly Elementary School, just started bowling last year.
His mother, Brenda Kelsey, said "Eric wasn't very interested in other sports, but he took to bowling quickly. Last year he averaged 36 but this year he's carrying a 110."
She praised the coaches: "The folks who run the program do everything they can to make the kids comfortable."
Eric is using an eight-pound this year and doing great; in a few years you may be hearing about a young bowler who throws a 16-pound ball and is thinking of turning pro.
Chris Neubauer, who bowls in the Junior Varsity on Saturday mornings, is already thinking a few years down the road. At 14, the Ellicott City youth has been bowling only two years. He already is carrying a 139 average and on Sept. 8, he threw a set that was 67 pins over that average.
Chris lives with his parents, Bill and Christa Neubauer, and his 10 year old brother, B. J. He's enrolled in the Mount Hebron High School and has a high game of 173.
His great-grandfather is Peter Reichardt, who is 80 years old and bowls just about every day.