Memoir Contest Winner: “For the Love of the Game” by Rebekah Varin

by Matilda Butler on July 4, 2011

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #108 – Women’s Memoir Writing, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett








Women’s Memoirs is pleased to present the last of four award-winning stories today. Rebekah Varin is the second of two tied First Place winners in this month’s memoir contest — INDEPENDENCE category. Earlier today we published our pair of First Place winners in the FOURTH OF JULY category– Heather A. A. Menzies and Sarah White as well the other tied First Place winner in the INDEPENDENCE category — Donna Lancaster. Be sure to read their stories as well.

“FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME”

by Rebekah Varin

 
Everyone has a memory that sticks out in your mind; a memory that makes you proud of yourself, even if it’s just for a few short moments. Or maybe it’s a memory in which you earned a bit of respect from the world around you. Well, this is my moment.
    
Up until two seasons ago I was a complete joke in the bowling world. I didn’t practice much, but I still complained when I wouldn’t do well. Then I stepped it up because I wanted people to stop walking all over me. I was tired of sitting in my sister’s shadow.

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Focus took hold, and I began to push myself to levels I had never dreamed of. I forced myself to become better, practicing shot after shot and training myself to keep my head on straight and not get angry. The funny thing about bowling is that the angrier you become, the worse you do.
    
After months of hard work and unbreakable determination, I decided to enter my first tournament of the season. That morning when I woke up, I was ready. Jamming out to “For the Love of the Game,” and preparing myself for a mentally draining day. As the lyrics swam through my head, the harsh pulse of the downbeat revved up the adrenaline rush. My life over the last seven months was defined in just forty-two words:

“Consumed by reputation,
It’s what they say that gets you down,
You find new motivation,
Inside this new love that you’ve found,
It’s now your navigation,
To keep your head engaged, oh yeah,
Your final destination,
Keeps you focused on the win”

*****

memoir, memoir writing, memoir contest winner, autobiography, journalingI walked into the bowling alley and drew in a deep breath. I noticed the peculiar looks on parents’ and players’ faces. I laughed, and thought they have no idea what’s coming. I knew going into that tournament that I was already the winner. It wasn’t like I was cocky, just determined. For the first five games, I refused to look at the standings sheet. I was only focused on one shot at a time, and following what my father has always told me: “Make a good first shot, and cover what you leave.” Easier said than done, of course. Yet this mentality coaxed me through the qualifying round. Right before game six, I walked up to the standings sheet to see what I needed in the final game to make cut. Much to my dismay, I needed to roll at least a 210 game. Well, I stepped onto my starting lane and allowed myself to remain focused. Within this mental state, I managed a 233.
    
Upon hearing the announcement of the competitors who would be bowling in matchplay, it suddenly dawned on me that I now had to bowl, head-to-head. I was petrified. However, instead of thinking about that, I told myself I was ready to win. So I plugged in my headphones, and jacked up the volume on my iPod. Even though I made cut, there was a huge journey ahead of me if I planned on seeing first place. I was fifth seed, which meant I had four matches, and I had to win them all. There was absolutely no room for failure, and I knew it. Talk about pressure!
    
The first match was against a newer bowler, and I beat her 185-164. The next match began, and Billie, a girl who had beaten me before, threw her practice balls. She looked confident, an attitude that would quickly be defeated. You see, I was lined up, and she knew it. All I had to do was repeat shots, and I would remain untouchable. So my Gamebreaker and I went on a journey together, defeating Billie 205-176.

The next two matches would be the toughest, but I held my head up high. Deanna entered the settee area, and shook my hand in a gesture I was all too familiar with. Our match was close throughout the first nine frames. I remember looking back at all the parents, and noticing just how many there were. I felt all those pairs of eyes peering at me as I stepped onto the approach. They were all awaiting the results of this match. For a while, Deanna and I matched each other, strike for strike. Then the door to defeat finally opened. She left the 5-pin, an easy pick-up, I thought. She did, however, miss the pin. So, I stood up to bowl, and began my approach. Time froze, for a few seconds, and I watched my ball roll down the lane. I watched intently, and exhaled as the pins toppled to the ground. I turned around to return back to starting position to continue my frame. Then, and only then, did I catch the eye of Deanna. The look on her face? Complete surprise. She was clearly shocked that she had just lost to me. I continued my final frame of that match, and took in the score, 249-237.
    
The adrenaline continued to pump through my veins like ice cold water. Everything happening felt as if it were in a dream: the voices muffled, the sounds quieted, and the actions slowed to minimal speeds. I couldn’t believe how far I had come, and all I could think was this is my moment. I sat down on the carpeted floor with my legs crossed, my eyes closed, and my hands intertwined within each other. All I heard was the thump of the ball meeting the lane and the crash of the pins. I looked up and met the gaze of Nicole.
    
Nicole was a senior in high school, curly brown-gold hair, and darting brown eyes. I had had many conversations with her regarding bowling, and like the others, she believed I was still the underdog. She couldn’t have been more wrong.
    
After she finished her practice shots, we shook hands and chose positions to begin the match. In these moments, however, our gazes never met. This was a grudge match. Within the walls of this final match were things far beyond the eye of the fans. There was a mission, something to prove. All I had to do was hold on and stay focused and I’d be fine. So that’s exactly what I did.
    
memoir, memoir contest, memoir writing contest winner, autobiography, journaling, personal life storyFor ten frames I forgot who my opponent was. In my mind, it was me against the lane, and that’s all that mattered. Shot after shot the goal seemed to inch closer and closer to me, the final prize. Before I knew it the game was done, and I hadn’t once paused to look at the scoreboard. Now, I would, because the outcome wasn’t clear!

I heard claps and cheers and the satisfied “Yes!” from my father. That’s when it hit me: I did it. No one did it for me, no one let me win. I did it all by myself, and I was the winner. That day wasn’t just about who won. It was about me standing up for myself, and no longer allowing my opponents to view me as an easy target, or a practice game. I didn’t do this for my father, my teammates, or even myself. I did it, for the love of the game. And that alone is what makes each shot worth throwing.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kendra Bonnett July 5, 2011 at

The real competition is with ourselves. Congratulations, Rebekah, on your winning story. Well written, focused (like you!) and keeps the reader’s interest.

Mrs. J. Blessington September 2, 2011 at

Rebekah,
I enjoyed reading your memoir. I especially liked the point you were making about “loving the game.” Your determination to master that sport, control your emotions, remain focused, and be your own person truly shone through in your memoir. An admirable achievement! Congratulations!
Mrs. B.

Christen Varin September 7, 2011 at

Your story brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully written and inspirational. Thank you for sharing this with me! I’m so proud of you, little sis!

Love you! :-)

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