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101 reasons to celebrate for this bowler

Laura Richards' determination paid off.
Laura Richards' determination paid off.
Courtesy of Laura Richards

This is one of my favorite stories. It was published Feb. 19, 2012, and is being reprinted with a postscript.

Sometimes it’s the little victories that mean a lot.

Just ask Irvine’s Laura Richards, an avid tennis player for the past 30 years. She has won numerous tennis club singles and doubles championships in the Orange County area.

On Saturday, the athletic Richards took her best shot at forging a love affair with a new sport: bowling.

Richards had been off the tennis courts for the last eight weeks after undergoing surgery on her left foot and expects to return in a few weeks. While waiting for her foot to heal for tennis, Richards traveled to AMF El Dorado Lanes in Westchester to see if she could find her groove in another arena.

It didn’t come easily for the 5-foot-4 left-hander with the big hook who bowls a few times every decade.

Richards rolled a 55 in her first game, 88 in the second and 68 in the third, failing to reach her goal of scoring at least a 100.

The determined Richards didn’t give up, though. Despite a back that was growing a little sorer each frame, Richards insisted to her bowling companion that she wanted to bowl a fourth game – and finished with a lackluster 76.

Undaunted, Richards came back for a fifth game – and scored an underwhelming 63.

She told her companion that she had enough stamina to bowl one final game and shoot for the elusive 100 score.

Richards got off to a slow start in her sixth game with three splits and six opens in the first six frames, totaling 49 at that point.

Then the spunky Richards rallied.

She rolled a spare in the seventh frame and another in the ninth frame to keep her hopes alive.

When she scored a seven on her first ball in the 10th frame, leaving the 1-5-6, all she needed was to hit one pin for that elusive 100.

Richards then knocked down the 5 and 6 pins, finishing with an exhausting, but rewarding 101.

For her six-game series in which she averaged 75, Richards rolled five spares and one strike.

“I expected [bowling] to be a lot easier than it was,” Richards conceded after it was over, adding that her difficulties “make me want to get better.”

She added, “I’ve never bowled that poorly in my life.”

Despite her struggles, Richards said she was not giving up on the game and that she hopes she could average about 120 with regular practice.

“It’s better than sitting in a movie theater,” Richards said. “I’d rather do something active.”

Her reaction to reaching the magical 100 mark in her sixth game?

“Yay, I finally could go rest my back and eat!” said Richards, laughing.

Postscript: Richards reports that since this story was written, she has gone on four bowling outings – and has managed to top the century mark in one more game.

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