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With an 82 average, I am the worst bowler in the league

Earlier this year on my birthday, we went bowling with a group of couples in our small town. I bowled a 50. Yes, you read that right — I'm a terrible bowler. As my husband, Nathan, has said on a few occasions, "There are a lot of things you are good at, Katie, but bowling has never been one of them."

I'm competitive and don't particularly enjoy playing sports I'm not good at. Nathan learned this firsthand when he tried to teach me to downhill ski. One time down the mountain together is all it took for him to know I would learn better from anyone other than him. At the time, I was in my 20s. Now that I'm closing in on 40, you might think I'm too stubborn and set in my ways to learn another new sport. That's not the case, though.

I recently joined the local women's bowling league and debuted with an 82 average, the lowest average on my team and I assume the worst in the league.

I'm the worst women's league bowler in Wishek, N.D. Add that to my resume.

In a rural location I've learned you have to choose to do what the locals enjoy at times to be entertained, and you can learn from new experiences.

Life experiences have taught me enough to know to be comfortable with who I am — even if that includes being a terrible bowler. I also have a few loyal friends willing to ask me to be on their bowling team. They've bowled with me before and know my lack of skills. Despite it all, they accept me for who I am: a terrible bowler — with great potential to improve.

Despite my absence of bowling skills, I know I need time to unplug with friends, outside of work, family and volunteer responsibilities. It's OK to allow myself a couple of hours of downtime each week — which is exactly why I agreed to join the bowling league.

I have hope for my bowling skills, thanks to my physical education teacher at Grand Forks Central High School. My teacher, fondly called "MP," told me I had to bowl a 140 to get an A for that quarter. I don't know if that was really true, but she helped my classmates and me practice bowling for a month in a dimly lit and rather sketchy downtown bowling alley in Grand Forks.

I bowled one game with the exact score of 140. MP knew how to motivate me. I wasn't interested in a B grade in physical education.

I don't think I've ever bowled a game even close to 100 since then. I don't think I've even bowled five times in my adult life, and a few of those times were at kids' birthday parties with bumpers in the gutters.

Aside from improving my bowling average, I want to live fearlessly, more confident in who I am, and not shy away from new experiences that can enrich me or open doors for additional opportunities I wouldn't know otherwise.

Is that a lot to expect for a bowling league? Maybe. Bowling just happens to be the avenue I've chosen for the time being to step out of my comfort zone and meet new people in a different space doing something in which I have limited experience.

When I walked into the bowling alley the first night for league, an acquaintance from our small town walked up to me, put her arm on my shoulder and said, "Welcome to the league!"

That was all I needed to know a small-town women's bowling league can push me to better myself.