I am not one to partake in cheesy activities (usually). Bingo, online Scrabble, Parcheesi, none of that gets me going. I’ve always been a video game or Blackjack girl, especially after I became a wheelchair-user. Wheelchair rugby? Meh. Wheelchair dancing? Not the same as it was before; not interested. And don’t get me started on how much I dislike swimming now (can’t swim, sink like a rock). Not every wheelchair-user is going to want to go all-in when it comes to wheelchair sports. Some of us, believe it or not, are not very athletic (I still have bad dreams of trying to tell my physical therapists no to wheelchair sports I was not ready for.
But, of course, I soon found that not all wheelchair sports are bad. After trying out mono-skiing 14 years ago at Hyland Hills in Minneapolis, through the Courage Center, and OMG loving every second of it (it felt just how skiing was before!), I finally felt comfortable enough in my own skin to try out another wheelchair sport a year later (and one that can really only be done in public), wheelchair bowling.
Much to my surprise, the first time I bowled I realized it’s still very fun even if you’re in a wheelchair. Whether you’re sitting or standing, it absolutely doesn’t matter in the game of bowling. The only thing you need to be able to do is slightly push the ball so it can go down the ramp and out into your lane. Even high quads on vents can bowl, something you certainly can’t say for a lot of sports (mouth function is the only requirement; they use a mouth stick to get it going).
The first time I gave bowling a go was in college. There was an alley near campus that had a ramp for the bowling ball (a necessity for anyone who can’t hold the ball using the finger holes and is in a wheelchair). After a few (ok, several) gutter balls, I found my rhythm and began to feel relatively confident, even though I was also feeling overwhelmingly self-conscious to boot. No one likes standing out, even us. But it was a great night. I felt like an equal among my peers, finally. I was right in there playing with the best of them.
Since college and my big bowling discovery, while I’m in no leagues, it still makes me very, very happy. No limitations, enjoying the sounds of the pins getting knocked over, the music, the beer, the camaraderie…. and I love that it’s so cool-retro now too. Cheesy and accessible (and cheap!), what’s not to love about wheelchair bowling?
Do you bowl? What adaptations do you recommend?