The winter season of bowling is just finished. Time to get ready for summer vacations -- . . or better yet, summer bowling leagues.
Certainly, it's time to kick back for a few days and enjoy your memories of the past season, to savor the victories, to deplore the defeats, to remember how brilliant you were in the clutch and how lucky your opponents were in the same situations.
Every bowler will have his or her story of the cherry-picked two-pinner, the washout, the impossible split that cost a game, a series or -- worse yet -- the league championship. It's never going to change, partner. Bowling brings ups-and-downs -- every week, sometimes every game, and sometimes every frame.
Do you remember the good times, the victories? You bet. Do the bad breaks, the defeats, ever go away? Are you kidding? They come back to haunt you years later, decades later. Forget 'em? Never.
Joe Rineer, owner of Mount Airy Lanes, has been a duckpin bowler for a few years and has a barrel full of trophies, a wall full of plaques, a book full of memories of titles won, of tournament victories where duckpins are bowled.
But if you talk to Rineer, you'll hear about the "one that got away." How tough is this game of duckpin bowling? Step down memory lane with Joe Rineer.
"It was a few years back, when some bowlers and myself went to a pro-am tournament at White Oaks Lanes," Rineer said. "Since friends and customers were with me, I wanted to do well.
"It depends on how you think as to how good the day turned out. I missed bowling a 600 series by 10 pins, had 590 series. That's the good news. The bad news is that I never had a 200 game and I missed a one-pinner in each game. That means that I could have shot three consecutive 200 games and a 600 series."
Think that's tough? One night in his home lanes, Rineer was zTC bowling in the Monday Men's Industrial League (which still exists) and fired a 583 series. That's the good news. The bad news? Never won a game.
Jonathan Wright's year was perfect.
Wright bowls in the Mount Airy Youth League on Saturday mornings and last year he never missed a single day of league play.
Wright, 13, started bowling when he was 8, carries an 89 average with a high game of 137 and lives in Mount Airy with his parents, Sandra and Donald.
The seventh-grader at New Market Middle School says, "Bowling's a lot of fun."
But Wright not only had perfect attendance for the last bowling season, but for five years.
The dreaded slump. No matter how long you've been bowling, a slump will rear it's ugly head. What do you do?
"I try to maintain a positive attitude," said Sharon Schildt of Taneytown.
Says Jim Hill of Taylorsville, "More practice."
Brett Welsh, one-time duckpin Bowler of the Year at Thunderhead Westminster, says, "Just bowl out of the slump."
May 29: No-Tap Pro-Am tournament at Country Club Lanes in Baltimore, adult or youth divisions, amateur have a chance to bowl with Professional Bowlers Association members
Ongoing: 62nd National Tournament through May 31 at Fontana's Silver Spring, Duckpin Center with a $25,000 purse. (800) 221-3564.
Ongoing: 14th annual Co-Sponsored Tenpin Singles Handicap Tournament at Thunderhead Lanes in Taneytown; open to men and women until May 31; first prize is $500; entry fee is $18; competitors may bowl any time lanes available. 751-1750.
June 6-Aug. 22: Third annual Country Club Classic at Country Club Lanes in Baltimore; three handicap divisions; first place is a guaranteed $4,000 plus a special event each week with extra prize money and Hammer bowling balls. (410) 686-2556.