Home > Sports > Diary of a Female Bowling Champion by Whitney Balboni

Diary of a Female Bowling Champion by Whitney Balboni

Whitney Balboni (center) with two of her lovely bowling girlfriends.

I’ll never forget the Bowladrome in the Lankville Area Marshlands. That’s where Daddy first took me bowling. I think I was three years old.

Back then, everything was blue with red trashcans at the end of each lane. I’ll never forget those trash cans. People used to throw chipped bowling bowls in them. It was impossible for the attendants to remove the bag. The ball would break right through and roll away, littering the blue carpet with other garbage. I remember Cliff, the manager. He was a little blue, himself. He said, “there just ain’t no trash bag strong enough to handle a 12-pound bowling ball. Wish there was.” I bet Cliff could have used one of those big contractor’s bags that they sell at the Home Tyrant now. But this was back before they had places like the Home Tyrant or the Home Dump or Barlow’s.

Anyway, back then I was in the Lankville Young Female Bowling Association (LYFBA) and I was champion by age 5. Daddy showed me how to put a lot of reverse English on the ball and people couldn’t believe it. Cliff said, “look at that wicked little girl. Kee-rist, she’ll be a champion one day” and then he would go back to spraying the shoes.

One time, Cliff said to Daddy, “I’d like to make little Whitney the mascot here at the Bowladrome. We can put her picture up on the god damn sign.” But Daddy was pretty sly. He asked for a hundred thousand dollars. Cliff threw up all over Daddy then, I’ll never forget it. When he recovered, he said, “don’t come back here. Don’t never come back here. And give me back all those damn award patches we doled out like they was god damn candy. I’m revoking all them.”

Daddy quietly said, “Whitney earned them patches” and we walked out into the parking lot. There was a little store at the end of the strip mall and Daddy said, “let’s get a loaf of bread.” So we did.

The Bowladrome

And that was the end of our time at the Bowladrome.

We started going across the Area Marshlands to the Rose Bowl. It was run by an ex-boxer named Mr. Farmer.

“Mr. Farmer will be better for your career,” my Daddy said. “You now need to enter a higher phase of learning. Bowling will be your life now. There is no need for any further education.”

And so Daddy pulled me out of school and we spent everyday– 9 hours a day, at the Rose Bowl.

It paid off. Even though I couldn’t barely read, I was Junior Champion by age 8. By age 10, I was beating 20 year-olds. By age 12, I was beating 30 year-olds. And only one year after that, I beat a guy who was 54. I had a perfect game that day, my first. I was the Marshland Champion.

“It’s time to travel east into the capital,” Daddy said. “It’s time for the Wheat Triangle Lane Tournament. But let’s get a loaf of bread first.”

Daddy left the car running while he went into the little store. I played the radio for awhile but Daddy didn’t come out. Then, a fat man in an apron came out. He looked around for a while and then he saw me. He came over.

“Is that your Dad that came in for the bread?” he asked.

“Yes.”

He sighed deeply.

“I hate to be the one to tell you this but I’m afraid that his arm got caught on the sharp corner of the bread shelf. His arm got torn off completely. Before I noticed, he bled to death.”

I was going to cry but I remembered what Daddy said. “There’s no crying in bowling”. So I showed the man my patch celebrating my first 300 game.

He looked at the sky. “Bowling is a sort of scourge here in the Marshlands,” he said. “That’s why your Daddy got his arm ripped off. Nature was balancing the scale.”

He reached into his pocket and gave me $5. I never knew why.

Diary of a Bowling Champion will continue in future issues.

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