A rainy, chilly January day in Carroll County.
Not a day to be playing outside, but a time to be sitting inside, near a roaring fire. Or to be bowling.
Inside Thunderhead Westminster Lanes, there was no hint of the dreary winter day, just wall-to-wall enthusiasm. The Saturday morningyouth leagues were bowling.
If you've ever been near a school when the kids are turned loose at the end of the day you have some idea of the noise, the excitement -- the pure fun -- that was generated bythese youngsters.
Kids come in all size, shapes, and levels of skill; it doesn't matter on the lanes. A raw beginner can, and does, have just as much fun as the seasoned professional. There are times whena 126 game is just as important as a 300 game. Ask Russ Warehime.
Russ, 11, is in the sixth grade at New Windsor Middle School and livesin New Windsor with his parents, Glenda and Ron Warehime, and his sister Jennie, 14. He's not into sports.
"I watch a lot of television,"Russ said. "Or as much as mom and dad will let me watch. I guess youcould call me a couch potato."
Well, maybe, but Russ looked like a dynamo at Thunderhead. He's only been bowling since the fall season began and he's already thrown that 126 game. When you're a newcomer tothe sport, a 126 game is a blockbuster.
But the scores aren't themost important thing with these young people. What's important is that they're enjoying themselves in a warm, clean, supervised environment. If you're ever down in the dumps, just stop in the Thunderhead Lanes on a Saturday morning and watch Russ Warehime and his friends bowl.
And if you like 1950s and 60s rock, be sure to hang around Russ; he's got a bunch of cassettes and they're all rock.
In a story about young Danny Smith last week, it was mentioned that he was moving up to a heavier bowling ball and that it was drilled by Danny Haines, who works at Thunderhead Lanes in Taneytown.
Danny, 29, is a top driller who lives in Westminster. He was born and raised in Linwood on his father's farm until he was 25. He's been bowling since he was 19 and right now he has an average of 178.
That average would be a lot higher, but Haines suffers from carpel tunnel syndrome. CTS affects the wrist and fingers, causing pain and weakness in one area that needs to be strong when bowling.
But Haines had a 300 game in 1989 andhis high set is 681. In 1989, with partner Doug Burkholder, Haines won the Greater Baltimore Bowling Association Doubles Tournament at Country Club Lanes in Baltimore County. Danny had a 663 series, Doug a great 753 set.
"When Doug gets loose, just get out of his way," Haines said.
Haines uses a 15-pound Columbia bowling ball now, a pound less than he used before the CTS hit.
"I've re-drilled my ball and it's a little easier on my hand, but I still can't shake the slump I'min," he said.
Haines learned ball drilling from Maurice Pickett and Bill Hall and from attending seminars on the art. He was at a seminarearlier this month at Bowlers Supply in York, Pa.
How important is having a ball drilled to fit your hand and your style of bowling?
Haines said custom drilling can be the most important item in raising a bowler's average.
"Of course, drilling a ball is not a cure-all," Haines said. "Just drilling another ball is not going to make someone a better bowler automatically. Skill and practice are going to do that.
"However, having a ball drilled to fit your hand is going togive a bowler every chance to excel. It's especially important for the novice, to make sure that the ball fits the hand properly."
So howdid Haines drill that new 10-pound ball for Danny Smith?
"Since Danny is a young man with a relatively small hand, I drilled the ball so the fingers pitched to the center of the ball and the thumb was pitched straight down," Haines said. "This way, his hand is not being strained. It takes the pressure off the tendons in the hand.
"When drilling a ball for a youngester, you have be careful not to stretch the tendons. The way the ball is drilled will not place any strain onthe hand, it's a relaxed grip."
It's that simple; it's that complex.
You know who's going to drill my next ball.